The border between NSW and Victoria will shut at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, marking the first time in a century that the state border will be closed.
The move follows the recent surge in coronavirus cases in Victoria, amid fears the second wave could spread to NSW too.
If you, like most of us, are wondering WTF will happen now that the two most populous states in the country just closed their border, here’s everything you need to know.
1. What happens to travellers on holiday in either state?
People currently visiting NSW or Victoria will be allowed to return home if they head back before 11.59pm, Tuesday 7th July. However, anyone returning across the NSW border from Victoria after that time will have to self-isolate for 14 days. Yeah, we’re back to that.
If you’ve got an interstate holiday planned, you’re shit outta luck. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has already apologised to anyone who’s plans have been totally ruined by the closure.
NSW closing the NSW/Victoria border pic.twitter.com/JinWpmtSfu— REEBOK PUMP (@SecretCommando) July 6, 2020
2. How strictly are they enforcing the closure?
Pretty damn strictly.
NSW Police say they’ll be patrolling four major highways, 33 bridge crossings and two river crossings with officers and even drones.
Aside from the obvious health risks, there’s no point even thinking about sneaking across the border after Tuesday night, either. That’s because NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller specifically said they’ll be using aerial surveillance to catch anyone who might “choose to swim across” the Murray River.
As we said, you’ll also have to self-isolate if you’re a NSW resident and return from a trip in VIC, if you cross the NSW border after 11.59pm on Tuesday. NSW residents returning from a Melbourne hotspot are already required to go into 14 days of self-isolation.
Anyone caught attempting to skirt these rules could also be cop a $11,000 fine and jail time.
Oh, and the Australian Defence Force have also been asked to help enforce the closure. Great.
Volunteering to man a 50 cal at the NSW/Vic border to make sure no infected make it across— dan nolan (@dannolan) July 6, 2020
3. What if I live in a border community or need to cross it?
People living in border communities will be allowed special exemptions. For example, people living in Wodonga will be allowed to cross the river into Albury, NSW, for essential purposes.
For everyone else, we’ll need to apply for a special permit to prove we’ve been adversely affected by the border closure.
While we’re not exactly sure what will and won’t be allowed, we do know that other states have already made exceptions in the past for people moving house and those caring for sick relatives.
Online applications are expected to open through Service NSW tomorrow.
4. What will happen to flights and trains?
Flights and trains will still operate between the two states, but the only people allowed to actually catch them will be those with permits to travel after Tuesday’s cut-off.
The Founding Fathers put the Murray River there for this exact purpose. The NSW Border Lockdown. pic.twitter.com/grRVnhLYZy— Hipstergeddon (@hipstergeddon) July 6, 2020
5. How long will all this last?
The short answer is: until further notice.
Neither the NSW government nor the Victorian government have given a solid end date. As has become the norm during the pandemic, these measures will be in place until someone says otherwise.
Here’s what we have to go by, per NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian: “I don’t want to see this happen for a long time, I want to see this happen in as short a time as possible.”
Fingers crossed, for everyone’s sake.