New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian will shut the state’s border with Victoria amid its coronavirus spike, news.com.au has confirmed.
The border will be closed tomorrow night after talks between Ms Berejiklian, Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Mr Andrews told reporters this morning the three agreed closing the border is “the best thing to do”.
“That closure will be enforced on the NSW side, so as not to drain on resources that are very much focused on fighting the virus right now across our state. I am grateful to the Premier of NSW for her support in giving affect to that,” Mr Andrews said.
“This is one of those precautionary measures, it is one of those things that I think will help us in broader terms to contain the spread of the virus.”
The move comes after Victoria’s massive spike in coronavirus cases — 127 new cases today and 182 over the weekend — and follows repeated criticism from Ms Berejiklian of Queensland for doing the same.
Ms Berejiklian’s Government has instituted strict conditions on incoming arrivals from Melbourne’s coronavirus hotspots, with the Premier telling NSW residents not to allow “anyone from a hotspot in Melbourne or from greater Melbourne to come into your home”.
Anyone from an affected Victorian postcode found in NSW could be jailed for six months or fined $11,000.
The same rules apply to NSW residents who visit the Melbourne suburbs.
“It’s not something we want to do but we must do for our own safety,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard told reporters last week.
“As soon as you set foot in NSW, you’ll be exposed to the possibility of six months in jail and $11,000 fine,” he said of any Victorians from the areas planning to “slip across” the border.
“So take it seriously, take it very, very seriously.”
But NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay said yesterday the time had come for NSW to shut its borders completely or risk a catastrophe for the community.
“We have confidence that the Andrews Government is taking appropriate action to contain its COVID-19 spread,” Ms McKay said.
“However, our priority must, as always, be the public health of NSW.”
Victorian Liberal MPs had urged Ms Berejiklian to ignore the calls to shut the border.
“I would implore Gladys to not listen to that rabble-rousing from the Opposition Leader in NSW,” he said.
“I think it would be a real shame if it was closed. It would absolutely gut regional communities on either side of the Murray River.”
Ms Berejiklian has been a critic of states – particularly Queensland – that enforced hard border measures and have kept them in place, even as Australia’s coronavirus situation eased, saying she didn’t think it was “logical” to keep borders closed while attempting to reboot the nation’s economy.
“What’s really critical to us now as a nation is to get the jobs going, is to stop us falling off an economic cliff in a few months time,” Ms Berejiklian told ABC at the end of May.
“For Australia to really move forward as a nation during this very difficult economic time as well as difficult health time, we do need … to allow people to move between states, to live, to work, to see family.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk hit back at the criticism from both Ms Berejiklian and the PM when she announced her state’s border would reopen on July 10, saying she was a “bit sick” her state was “singled out”.
“Perhaps if Victoria had self-quarantined, then the Prime Minister could have set a date for all of the other states and territories once Victoria had it under control,” she said.
“At the moment, what we have is a bit of a confrontation where fights are being picked at different states and, frankly, I don’t think it’s good enough. I’ve been silent for a long time and I will not be silenced for standing up for what I believe to be right.”