Victoria will close its border to all of NSW from 11.59pm on New Year’s Day, January 1.
Victorians in NSW have until then to make it back into the state before the border closes, Acting Premier Jacinta Allan said on Thursday.
The decision comes as two new cases were announced in Victoria on Thursday afternoon, taking the total local new cases to eight across Wednesday and Thursday.
“This is not an easy choice — closing borders putting in place restrictions is never an easy choice to make,” Ms Allan said.
“It’s certainly not one we wanted to be making and announcing on a day that is supposed to be about celebrating.
“Unfortunately the virus doesn’t expire at midnight tonight and we have to remain vigilant, we have to do everything we possibly can to lock in the situation we have here in Victoria.”
She said there could possibly be tens of thousands of people in NSW who need to return to Victoria in less than two days.
“However, we have been sending a very strong message for the best part of the week and a half, 10 days now, advising people to think very carefully about their travel to NSW,” she said.
She said the decision was made to “lock in the precious gains and sacrifices Victorians have made over 2020”.
The whole state of NSW will be considered a red zone, meaning “anyone arriving at the road border from those impacted areas will be turned away and will have to find alternative accommodation in New South Wales” according to the Department of Health and Human Service.
Ms Allan said there were people who could apply for exemptions, including in the case of medical care, and that exemptions could be applied for through the DHHS.
“There would be people concerned about their ability to return within the time frame specified, and we encourage them to contact the Department of Health and Human Services to talk through the exemptions that may be available and discuss their travel plans,” she said.
People from the ACT can enter Victoria with a green zone permit, Victoria’s commander of COVID-19 response Jeroen Weimar said.
He urged anyone in Victoria who has been to NSW in the past 10 days to get tested immediately.
New restrictions were also announced for Victoria on Thursday.
From 5pm on New Year’s Eve, private indoor gatherings are restricted to 15 people — not including the members of the household, and children under 12 months old.
Masks must also be worn indoors from 5pm on New Year’s Eve.