Victoria is set to ban its own residents from returning home to the state unless they can obtain an exemption.
Premier Daniel Andrews made the announcement alongside revealing his state’s lockdown would continue for a further week.
“As promising as our progress has been avoiding a NSW-style lengthy lockdown where you just lose control of cases, we’ve avoided that, but we need more time,” he said.
The so-called ‘hard border’ will come into effect from Wednesday and means only essential workers and those with a compassionate reason will be able to fly or drive across the border.
Previously, Victorians could re-enter but had to undertake mandatory quarantine.
“If you had a loved one that was unwell, if you yourself needed medical care if you needed to attend Victoria and spend time in Victoria for one of those sorts of reasons we will boost the number of people who are dealing with those exemptions,” said Premier Andrews.
“While the situation further deteriorates, and we see more and more cases, hundreds of extra cases, in Sydney, [if] we get this outbreak under control, and then we finish up with another incursion brewing, I don’t want that to happen.”
It came as NSW reported a further 78 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and South Australia announced its own seven-day lockdown would come into effect from 6pm.
The state has so far identified five cases linked to its current cluster.
Earlier this week, Australian Aviation reported how Melbourne Airport’s CEO, Lyell Strambi, said it was now a matter of “urgent and critical national interest” to address the country’s vaccine supply challenges.
“The sector has never experienced a deeper or longer crisis than COVID; it almost completely grounded interstate and international travel last year and it continues to prevent flying due to outbreaks and subsequent border closures,” said Strambi.
“Looking back at the past 12 months, Australia managed its outbreaks better than many other parts of the world, and during periods of no community transmission interstate travel in and out of Melbourne rose to around 45 per cent of pre-COVID levels. That demonstrates a resilient confidence and determination to travel.
“Vaccination is our only path out of this situation, it is the only way to unlock international travel opportunities and to restore the freedoms we once enjoyed.
“We continue to work closely with our international airline partners and state and federal governments to plan to reconnect Victorians to the rest of the world when it is safe to do so.”