Do not travel to Sydney unless you want to be stuck there.
That is Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley’s blunt message for residents of his state, after a cluster on Sydney’s Northern Beaches continues to grow.
An additional 23 cases were diagnosed in NSW in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, taking the Northern Beaches outbreak to 40.
On Saturday Mr Foley confirmed Victoria’s border would remain open to Sydney at this stage, but flagged that it may not last long.
“There is a significant risk that COVID-19 has seeded across the greater Sydney area,” he said.
“If that is the case – and I stress that is an if – then we will have no choice but to declare all of Sydney a red zone.”
The situation is being monitored on an hourly basis, and restrictions could change at any time.
“My message to everyone in Victoria is don’t go to Sydney,” Mr Foley said.
“If you are prepared to do so, then be prepared to be stuck there for at least a period of time, if the red zone designation expands to greater Sydney.”
NSW travellers currently need a permit to enter Victoria, with the state’s new “traffic light” permit system coming into effect from midnight Friday.
Anyone coming from Sydney is asked to get tested and isolate awaiting the results, while any who has visited the Northern Beaches will be denied entry.
Testing sites have been set up at terminals one and four at Tullamarine airport. Masks will also be mandatory in airports from midnight.
Since midnight, 52,000 permits have been issued – about 250 each minute.
Travellers from the Northern Beaches who had already entered the state between 11-17 December are being contacted via SMS and are required to isolate for 14 days.
The Health Minister had some strong words for anyone from the area considering making the trip to Victoria now.
“If you come to Victoria, you will be spending your Christmas in hotel quarantine.”
“If you are leaving, you are breaching your own government’s request and, as of 5:00pm today, your own government’s order that you not leave those areas.”
Two unaccompanied minors from the Northern Beaches, and their carer who was already in Melbourne, are now in hotel quarantine after entering the state.
Two close contacts of confirmed cases in NSW have also entered hotel quarantine as it was unsafe for them to isolate at home.
Travellers from Sydney are also urged not to travel into the state.
“Please don’t come. We know that’s disruptive. We know that’s tough. We know that’s not the message that so many families want to hear.”
Victoria has gone 50 days without a locally-acquired case of COVID-19.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus. Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania.