Anyone who has been in the NSW regions of Blue Mountains and Wollongong from Sunday will be banned from entering Victoria from January 1, under new rules.
The Victorian government unveiled new border measures on Wednesday for those wanting to return to Victoria from the two areas.
The rules were introduced after 18 new COVID-19 cases were reported in NSW, including six from a new cluster in the inner-west of Sydney.
People wanting to return from the two regions must do so between midnight on Wednesday and 11.59pm on New Year’s Eve.
They must also apply for a new travel permit, get tested within 24 hours of returning to Victoria and self-quarantine at home for 14 days from when they last left the region.
No one who has visited the areas will be able to enter Victoria after December 31.
Anyone found to have entered Victoria without a valid permit of exemption may be fined more than $1652. Intentionally providing false information on a permit application also attracts a fine of $1652 or penalty of up to $9913.
Anyone currently in Victoria, who has been in Wollongong or the Blue Mountains since Sunday is urged to get tested and stay at home until a negative test result is received.
Testing sites remain at all terminals at Melbourne Airport and the Department of Health and Human Services will contact each returning traveller and provide them with further information about their quarantine.
Victoria’s border with New South Wales remains closed.
No one who has been in the Northern Beaches area, Greater Sydney, and the NSW Central Coast – and from Thursday at midnight the Blue Mountains and Wollongong – in the past 14 days can enter.
Health authorities warn those arriving at the road border from impacted areas will be turned away and have to find alternative accommodation in New South Wales.
The rest of regional NSW is designated as a green zone, meaning if you have a permit it will remain valid – unless it relates to the Central Coast, which has now turned into a red zone.
However border town residents must travel with valid photo ID with address details.
Victoria Police checkpoints along the border are ensuring only people with valid permits, residents in border communities and those with eligible exemptions can enter Victoria.
Victorians are also strongly advised not to travel to New South Wales as you may not be able to re-enter without undertaking hotel quarantine for 14 days.
“The situation is highly dynamic and the red zone may continue to change at short notice – therefore Victorians are strongly advised not to travel to New South Wales ,” a health spokesman said.
Earlier, Police Minister Lisa Neville told reporters authorities reopening the Victorian border to NSW was a “day-by-day proposition”.
“The level of restrictions in place, the number of cases … will inform the health advice to government about the border,” she told reporters on Wednesday morning.
NSW has recorded another 18 cases of coronavirus, including nine linked to the northern beaches cluster.
Six are from the same family and associated with a case in Croydon, in Sydney’s inner west, which was reported on Tuesday and has no known link to the existing outbreak.
Other mystery cases include a woman in her 50s from Wollongong. Her household contact, a woman in her 20s, has since tested positive.
The Croydon cluster, three adults and three children, has raised concerns given there are no known links to the northern beaches outbreak.
“I get it’s been a really long year for those communities and lots of border lockdowns, but I think all Victorians would agree that we cannot take the risk of these getting back in our community when we had 10 long, hard months of dealing with this,” Ms Neville said.
“We did an incredible job, and I think everyone is very supportive of measures that try to do everything we can to stop this getting back in our community.”
Despite recording 61 straight days without any new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, Victorians are being urged to stay away from the CBD on New Year’s Eve unless they have a booking at a hospitality venue.
The measure is being asked of Victorians in a bid to limit movement and stop any possible transmission of the virus.