Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has requested all flights to Melbourne be diverted for the next fortnight as the state battles to get to grips with an apparent second spike of coronavirus cases.
The announcement came just hours after Queensland said it open its borders to all states except Victoria, and South Australia U-turned and insisted it would now not allow travel to NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
The dramatic flurry of announcements came after another big day of COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, with 64 recorded following the 75 on Monday. The numbers, however, have corresponded with a huge testing blitz in affected suburbs.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ was the most dramatic, surprisingly asking flights to his capital to be diverted in order to cut the number of arrived travellers who need to be quarantined.
“I haven’t got the answer from the Commonwealth yet but I’m pretty sure the answer will be yes, there will be no further flights arriving,” Premier Andrews said. “Today’s flights will be the last ones for a period of two weeks.”
It came as he reintroduced stay-at-home orders for a series of hotspot suburbs from 11:59pm on Wednesday.
The news was revealed shortly after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said anyone travelling back to her state from Victoria, including residents, would be forced to quarantine at a hotel at their own expense.
Premier Palaszczuk said, “We cannot risk removing our border restrictions for those people coming from areas in Victoria right now.
“The government will open the borders to other states from Friday, July 10, provided travellers complete a border declaration stating they have not been to local government areas in Victoria in the previous 14 days.”
James Pearson, chief executive of the Australian Chambers of Commerce, told Sky News on Tuesday that border closures are a “blunt instrument”.
“What we should be very confident about here is Australia is that we’ve got the ability to target our response, as we’re seeing in Melbourne at the moment,” he said.
“It doesn’t make sense in our view to be holding back the opportunity businesses in other parts of the country, particularly in tourism and hospitality, from welcoming people who are coming from other parts of Australia.”
Earlier, SA Premier Steven Marshall also rowed back on plans to reopen its border on 20 July to Victoria, NSW and the ACT, though hinted he could be more lenient with the latter two, which have fared better in restricting community transmission.
“Our number one priority is the health, welfare and safety of all South Australians,” Premier Marshall said. “At this stage, we cannot lift that border on the 20th July as we were hoping to do.”