8 July 2020

Victorians barred from ACT as NSW-Victoria border closes

| Dominic Giannini
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COVID-19 testing

Travellers returning to Canberra from Victoria will have to quarantine for 14-days at their own expense. Photo: ACT Health.

UPDATED 4:15 pm, 6 July: Victorians will be refused entry into the ACT from midnight Tuesday (7 July) and Canberrans have been strongly advised not to travel to the state unless it is absolutely essential under new directions from the Territory’s Chief Health Officer.

Canberrans will be allowed to return home but will have to quarantine themselves for 14-days no matter what part of Victoria they are returning from. Essential travel and exemptions on compassionate grounds will still be allowed under the new directions.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr made the announcement just hours after NSW Premier Gladys Berekjiklian said she would be closing the NSW-Victoria border from midnight Tuesday.

Mr Barr said the Territory will strive to move forward in parity with its neighbour as he welcomed NSW’s decision.

However, the added travel restrictions on Victorians are not set to impact the Territory’s plan to move to stage three of eased restrictions this Friday (10 July). More details about what measures will be scaled back are set to be announced in the next few days.

The original plan to move to stage three would see larger gatherings and the return of dine-in food courts, saunas and bathhouses, strip clubs and steam-based beauty therapy while measures for casinos and gaming venues would be considered further.

The Chief Minister had also flagged the possibility of moving to a ‘one person per two square metres’ rule, as opposed to the current four, in line with national cabinet’s recommendations.

Although the Territory’s transition to stage four – which includes “highest-risk” activities like night clubs, festivals and conferences – may be slowed because of the situation in Victoria, Mr Barr said.

Despite the ACT registering no new cases for the last month, Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said she has extended the Territory’s public health emergency order for another 45 days, pushing the end date back to 21 August.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has previously said closing the border would be a last-ditch option but did not publically state what the trigger point would be.

Coronavirus cases continue to increase in Victoria with 137 new cases recorded today (6 July), bringing the total number of active cases to 692. Two men have also died, one aged in his 90s yesterday and the other in his 60s today.

The health advice in the ACT was previously upgraded on Friday, warning Canberrans not to visit any of the COVID-19 hotspots and to reconsider any travel plans to Melbourne.

Anyone visiting the ACT from Victoria will have to quarantine in the Territory for 14 days at their own expense or return to their home jurisdiction at the earliest reasonable opportunity.

Passengers on inbound flights from Melbourne will also be asked to provide identification when they arrive at Canberra Airport.

The government says anyone who fails to comply with the direction may face penalties and fines.

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There would probably need to be checkpoints at the road entries of ACT for the travel restrictions and quarantine intentions to be effective, including the crossings in the west mountain ranges and Uriarra, Coree, and Mulligans Flat Road.

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