Andrews shuts border to all but authorised workers, compassionate exemptions as NSW outbreak grows

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The government has tightened restrictions for people applying for permits to enter Victoria from red zones throughout Australia, such as New South Wales.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said from 11.59pm on Tuesday night the only people that would be eligible to receive a permit from a red zone are authorised workers and people who get approval for a compassionate exemption to travel.

“I had to announce these red zone permit changes today, I don’t get any joy from doing that, having to say to people that want to come home for the best of reasons ‘no you can’t’,” he said.

“They’re not locked into Sydney, so they must be locked out of Victoria, that is the choice I’ve had to make.”

Since the beginning of Sydney’s outbreak, roughly 10,000 Victorians have returned home from orange and red zones, amid warnings from authorities to leave New South Wales before restrictions tightened.

Returning from a designated orange zone requires a person to isolate until they receive a negative test result, while returning from a red zone requires a 14-day quarantine period.

“The only people that will get a permit to travel from a red zone into Victoria, are those who are authorised workers and …[those] who apply for and get a compassionate exemption,” he said.

Mr Andrews said the change will be in place for at least the next two weeks and was announced at the same time as a week-long extension to Victoria’s five-day lockdown.

The Premier said Victoria’s outbreak was a result of an interstate incursion and he wasn’t prepared to see the hard work done by people in lockdown undone by people returning from Sydney.

“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,” he said.

“So those rules will apply for the next two weeks, and I know that will cause inconvenience, that will cause … a real challenge for many people.

“There will be exemptions on compassionate grounds, 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.

“I’d ask in advance, patience.”

The changes come as NSW recorded 78 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, of which 27 were infectious in the community. There was also another death.

There are now 95 COVID-19 cases in hospital in NSW, with 27 people in intensive care and 11 requiring ventilation.

Mr Andrews likened the new border restrictions to the state’s controversial ‘ring of steel’ policy enacted last year to protect country Victoria, and the rest of the nation, from Melbourne’s outbreak.

“I just remind you all, we had a ring of steel around Melbourne, last year, and it didn’t just protect country Victoria, it protected the whole country,” he said.

“We don’t want to get this outbreak under control only to see another outbreak flare-up, another incursion. It’s never just about lockdown, there’s a whole range of other measures.”

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