The Victoria-NSW border is to close at midnight on Tuesday after the state recorded 127 more coronavirus cases on Sunday – its record high.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews insisted the decision was taken jointly after a call between himself, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
The news comes after Melbourne cancelled international flights into the city on Wednesday last week and Queensland said it would open up to all states bar Victoria.
In a Monday morning press conference, Premier Andrews confirmed the state had recorded 127 more cases on Sunday, its highest ever increase.
However, he insisted the total was in part due to a testing blitz that concentrated on blocks and suburbs affected by an apparent second peak of cases.
Of the 128, 34 were from known outbreaks, 40 from routine testing, and 53 under investigation from Victoria’s public health team. Crucially, none of the increase was as a result of hotel quarantine from flights.
“We thank every each and every Victorian, and all those who have agreed to a test when people have knocked at their door,” said Premier Andrews. “Those tests are critically important. I’m so proud and grateful to those doing testing.
“In total, we have completed 952,699 tests, which is one of the highest rates anywhere in the world.”
Currently, 31 people are in hospital and five are in intensive care.
The border closure will be enforced on the NSW side, in order to better allocate resources in Victoria, said Premier Andrews.
He also revealed there would be a permit system to allow those who have essential reasons, such as health workers, to fly or travel between the states.
Previous reports have suggested the sharp increase in cases has resulted from apparent lapses in the hotel quarantine program.
Two hotels have been named as a source of the outbreak, Rydges on Swanston in Carlton and the Stamford Plaza in the city centre.
The move comes a week after NSW, which had kept an open border, moved to ban anyone arriving from Victorian virus hotspots only.
Those that arrive from one of the affected suburbs in Melbourne now face a fine of $11,000 and a potential jail sentence for six months if they enter the state.
Meanwhile, SA has put on ice plans to open its borders to NSW, the ACT and Victoria, while Queensland declared it would soon open to all states bar Victoria.