The border between NSW and Victoria will be sealed and patrolled by midnight on Tuesday, as Melbourne grapples with a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision was made at meeting between NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this morning.
Andrews described the closure – first between the two states in 100 years – as “the right call at this time.”
“I apologise for any inconvenience that it will cause for those who otherwise will have travelled,” he told reporters.
In the meantime, anyone entering NSW from Victoria before the border is shut will have to self-isolate.
To stop anyone sneaking in, NSW Police will use drones to monitor four major roads and 44 bridge crossings. Two waterway crossings will also be patrolled, to catch people who “chose to swim across”, according to Police Commissioner Mick Fuller.
NSW will also introduce a permit system to allow people to travel between the states for essential purposes. Applications will open on Tuesday, and anyone can apply if they feel they’ve been impacted.
Some exemptions will also be made for people living in border communities. For example, the Victorian-run hospital in Albury-Wodonga is actually on the NSW side of the borer, but will still remain accessible to Victorians.
“That closure will be enforced on the NSW side so as not to be a drain on resources that are very much focused on fighting the virus right now across our state,” Andrews added.
Berejiklian had previously had a go at other state premiers for not quickly reopening their borders.
While NSW has now joined Queensland and South Australia in closing off to Victoria, Berejiklian today still urged all other premiers to keep their borders open with one another.
Over 500 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded in Victoria in the past week alone.