Hundreds of Victorians stranded in New South Wales have been told they will only be allowed home if they have “genuine reasons.”
At least 1500 exemption applications are currently before Victorian authorities, after the state slammed its borders shut to NSW on Friday.
It comes as New South Wales records eight new cases on Sunday. Victoria recorded three – all of which are connected to the Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in bayside Melbourne’s Black Rock.
Victoria’s COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said as the level of virus circulating in NSW continued to be of “genuine concern”, the exemptions were being triaged and worked through in priority order, but could take up to 48 hours to process.
Applicants are being warned to prepare for their request to be denied, as the state heavily restricts who can enter.
“Anybody who finds themselves in NSW who believes they have an important reason to get back to Victoria is invited to apply. That does not mean you will be granted an exemption,” Mr Weimar said.
“We will only be granting exemptions for people who put in genuine medical, emergency, family, hardship reasons to get back in. There will be conditions applied to those individuals … (including) mandatory hotel quarantine.
“I sympathise with the people locked out … But we have to take a view about what’s right for the wider Victorian community.”
At least 60,000 people cut short their holidays to return to Victoria before the hard border closure on New Year’s Day, which Mr Weimer said he had greatly appreciated.
“(They) managed to get back under severe hardship with a lot of inconvenience in that time,” he said.
“When we stood up three or four days ago, we said we were increasingly concerned about the risk of COVID exposure, (in NSW).
“So I thank the 60,000 people who made the right decision to cut their journeys and to come back into the state. I am confident the vast majority will follow through and get tested as required.”