From midnight tonight, Victoria will officially close its borders to New South Wales and ACT due to the growing number of COVID-19 in the region.

Speaking at a press conference this morning, Premier Daniel Andrews warned Victorians to return home immediately from NSW and ACT or risk being shut out. Now, the Victorian Department of Health has confirmed that borders will officially close at 11:59pm on Sunday.

This means that all of NSW and the ACT are considered red zones, as opposed to yesterday when Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast of NSW were only considered red zones.

A hard border closure means anyone trying to enter Victoria from NSW and ACT will effectively be shut out of the state, similarly to what happened last year when the borders were closed. 

“If you’re a Victorian resident, you can obtain a red zone permit and return to Victoria – but you will be required to immediately isolate, get tested, and quarantine for 14 days,” a statement from Acting Chief Health Officer Dan O’Brien read.

“You cannot enter if you have COVID-19, any symptoms, or if you have been defined a close contact by a state health authority (e.g. if you have been to an exposure site).”

If you’re not a Victorian resident, you cannot enter the state without an exception, or valid permit. If you try to enter, you will be fined up to $4,957.

The border closure comes after NSW Health reported 77 new locally acquired cases as of 8pm last night – as well as the first death in this outbreak.

32 cases were in isolation throughout their infectious period while nine cases were in isolation for part of it. 33 cases were infectious while in the community and three cases are under further investigation.

The high number of infectious cases within the community is concerning for Victorian health authorities, who are anxious about COVID spreading from Sydney.

If you’re confused about what the border closure means for you, head to the DHS website here.

Image: Getty Images / Darrian Traynor