For the past few weeks, we’ve all been quietly shitting ourselves at the thought that we’d see more COVID-related lockdowns and restrictions in place before Christmas. Now, unfortunately, that situation is upon us, with a worrying cluster of cases continuing to grow in Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
After they worked so hard to beat the last wave of COVID, the Victorian government is not taking any chances this time, and as of midnight, the state has rolled out a new ‘traffic light’-style travel permit system for people seeking to enter from NSW.
Per the DHHS, the travel permit system will be in place for “all New South Wales residents travelling to Victoria” as well as “residents from other states travelling through NSW and Victorians visiting NSW and returning home”, so if you’ve been in NSW and want to go to Victoria, you’re affected.
While the new rules are important to slow the spread of COVID and safeguard public health, this latest development also has royally fucked a lot of Christmas travel plans, and has effectively closed the border between Victoria and Sydney’s Northern Beaches. So how does it all work?
Details of the travel permit system – including which specific areas fall into which classification – can be found here on the Victorian Government’s coronavirus website, but in short, NSW has been broken up into three separate zones. The classification for these is as follows:
- ‘Green zone’ – New South Wales (excluding Northern Beaches and Greater Sydney)
- ‘Orange zone’ – Greater Sydney
- ‘Red zone’ – High-risk locations – Northern Beaches
From 11:59pm Friday, 18 December, only people who have visited, been in, or travelled through an ‘orange zone’ or ‘green zone’ can apply for a Victorian Border Crossing Permit. There are different requirements, depending on where you’ve come from:
- People who have visited, been in or travelled through a ‘green zone’ are required to monitor for symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). If you have symptoms, it is recommended that you get tested.
- People who have visited, been in or travelled through an ‘orange zone’ are strongly encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible after entering Victoria.
And now comes the kicker: People who have visited, been in or travelled through a ‘red zone’ will not be permitted to enter Victoria from New South Wales, unless an exemption applies – a list of exemptions is available via the above link.
Authorities warn that people who have visited, been in or travelled through a ‘red zone’ who try and enter Victoria may be detained on the basis that their detention is “reasonably necessary for the purpose of eliminating or reducing a serious risk to public health.”
As for other specific requirements, the Victorian coronavirus website states that travellers entering the state from NSW must carry a valid Victorian Border Crossing Permit as well as photo ID, including the address where they normally reside.
These documents must be presented to an “authorised officer, a Victoria Police Officer or a Protective Services Officer” upon request.
You can apply for a travel permit here, and the Victorian government says the process takes five minutes.
As for travel into New South Wales, the DHHS warned overnight that “Victorians are strongly advised not to travel to Sydney as conditions are expected to deteriorate and [they] may not be able to re-enter without undertaking hotel quarantine for 14 days.”
The department is in the process of contacting all airline passengers who travelled from NSW and arrived into Victoria from 11 December.
Per their official statement: “Any passengers who have travelled from the Northern Beaches and other NSW exposure sites from 11 December will be required to get tested and self-quarantine for 14 days from the date they were last in a red zone.”