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As of 7pm on Monday, updates will stop overnight on this blog unless major news breaks.
Advice from Service NSW
From Wednesday 8 July, NSW will temporarily shut its border with Victoria to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health and jobs of NSW citizens.
If you're travelling from Victoria to NSW, you'll need a COVID-19 NSW border declaration permit.
There will be provisions in place for residents of border regions, such as Albury-Wodonga. More information, including details on how to apply for a permit, will be available on this page soon.
Victorian-based Ovens and Murray players have been banned from taking part in the start of the Riverina and Farrer league seasons.
The NSW Government decided to close the Victorian border on Monday, a move that comes on the back of a recruitment frenzy from AFL Riverina clubs.
The ban on travel across the border will put a line through any Victorian-based players for the time being, while AFL Riverina has not ruled out extending the ban for the length of the season.
The move is set to impact between 10 and 15 footballers living in or around Wodonga.
NSW Health can confirm investigations are underway in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District after two suspected cases of COVID-19 returned positive results on preliminary testing.
The positive results were detected in the Albury Local Government Area, though it is not clear whether the residents are from Albury or Wodonga.
One Border resident who tested positive for COVID-19 had recently travelled to Melbourne and had returned prior to hotspot travel restrictions coming into force.
The latest from the @bordermail MOVE THE CHECKPOINT NORTH: https://t.co/1qiewT4Z2j— Sophie Boyd (@sophiemboyd) July 6, 2020
COVID-19 RETURNS: https://t.co/mHqAkNBlje
FAQs ANSWERED: https://t.co/Gv2FHgrKkq
INSIGHT FROM QLD: https://t.co/sP5BIbl0YH
POLLIES CONCERNED: https://t.co/cl2c0whQFj
MOVE THE CHECKPOINT NORTH: Chaos, confusion strike twin cities in historic border closure call
The move to close the border has already been condemned by business groups which are advocating checkpoints be moved north of the border to prevent chaos and confusion for Albury-Wodonga residents.
"There must be consideration to not having the border, for the purpose of COVID-19 management, located in the middle of 100,000 people," Australian Industry Group regional manager Tim Farrah said.
"The confusion and disruption to the lives of the whole population of Albury Wodonga is unacceptable.
"If NSW wish to manage the flow of people into the state, for the sake of the constituents that live in Albury and their family and friends who live in Wodonga, the checkpoint should be located north of the city and permits for locals to travel north of Albury to visit family, friends and play sport issued as required.
"This would reduce the congestion at the border on both the freeway and the Lincoln Causeway enormously.
"It may require more work from the NSW to police a few side roads but that is better than inconveniencing 100,000 people, 24 hours a day for however long this closure is in place for.
"The confusion and chaos is taking us back to the very early days of the pandemic."
Oncologist Craig Underhill said Victorian cancer patients seeking treatment at the Albury-based cancer centre would be severely impacted.
He agreed the border checkpoints should be moved north of the city.
"We are looking at hundreds of people a month from Victoria seeking treatment," he said.
"We need an urgent solution for those people in our community.
"There are some people we can safely delay, but there are others we can't and an absolute hard closure of the border tomorrow night is going to have a big impact on people continuing their treatment.
"To put in a soft border north or south of Albury-Wodonga would make more sense."
READ THE FULL IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS HERE
All Victorians travelling on flights to the ACT will be denied entry to Canberra from tomorrow, following a surge in coronavirus cases in Melbourne.
ACT residents returning from any part of Melbourne will have to quarantine for 14 days from 11.59pm tonight.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the move would coincide with the closure of the NSW and Victorian border, which will come into effect at 12.01am Wednesday.
The decision was made to close the border after 127 cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Victoria in the 24 hours to Monday, the highest daily rate of increase in the state.
However, the travel restriction to Victorians will not impact the easing of restrictions in the ACT, with the third stage enacted from Friday.
People coming into the ACT from known coronavirus hotspots in Victoria on flights had been ordered to self quarantine for 14 days at their own expense or return home.
That will be expanded even further from 11.59pm tonight, with anyone from Melbourne ordered to quarantine should they arrive in the capital.
From 11.59pm on Tuesday, it will then apply to all Victorians.
Member for Farrer Sussan Ley said she conveyed her 'high level of concern' about the border closure to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Member for Benambra Bill Tilley has hit out at the Victorian government.
Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell said the border closure will creaste hardship for communities.
"The many border communities throughout my electorate have been through so much already, and I am under no illusion as to the impact of this unprecedented decision," she said.
"I recognise this is going to create hardship and frustration for our border communities, but I know the resilience of my constituents along the Murray will shine through once again.
"NSW is doing this in good faith but make no mistake this does not give people a leave pass to travel to Melbourne and then think this permit will let them enter NSW."
CORONAVIRUS HAS RETURNED TO THE BORDER
Two people in the Albury-Wodonga region have returned a positive test for COVID-19, The Border Mail understands.
Murrumbidgee Local Health District, which is the authority overseeing reporting for the Border region, advised today there had been no new cases as at 8am on Monday.
The Border Mail understands the test results have been confirmed during the course of today, and contact tracing is being undertaken.
MLHD has been contacted for comment.
A glimpse into our future?
Residents crossing state lines in a regional community along the Queensland-NSW border displayed permits on their dashboards that were sighted by police officers, and the council there negotiated its own system for some crossings.
Goondiwindi Regional Council mayor Lawrence Springborg told The Border Mail the permit system established for his region had worked very well over nearly three months.
"We're probably very similar to you in that the border is only a line on a map that separates people, but they are one community," he said.
"People went fairly freely backwards and forwards, and trucks went straight though, as they were logistics.
"They [police and Queensland Transport workers] would get the occasional person coming across who wasn't allowed, and they would be put into self-quarantine and given a quarantine order."
Two major checkpoints were manned by police and government staffers, with cars slowing down to the border and waved through, and those without permits displayed being questioned.
Five other crossings were managed by council with 70 crossings on average taking place in those locations each day.
"We came up with an arrangement supported by the Queensland police, where people who were border permit access holders were issued with a code on their smartphone, and they could manage their own movements - it was people, for example, who had split farming enterprises," Cr Springborg said.
Border communities in the sunshine state also received more notice, with three days' lead-in to the closure.
Under the Queensland government's arrangements, freight transport drivers were not required to complete the Queensland Border Declaration Pass.
Member for Indi Helen Haines has issued a statement seeking guarantees for cross-border service access and permits.
Read the statement in full below:
Helen Haines has asked the NSW Premier to guarantee that Albury Wodonga residents will at all times be able to move between the twin cities to access health services and ensure permits are readily available for education, business and work while the border remains closed during Victoria's current coronavirus spike.
The Independent Federal Member for Indi said constituents started contacting her Wodonga and Wangaratta electorate offices this morning, concerned and distressed about the border closure, which takes effect from 11:59pm tomorrow (Tuesday, July 7).
"This announcement has caused uncertainty for many of us who live in border and neighbouring communities," Dr Haines said.
"But the people of Albury Wodonga are likely to be most seriously affected by the border closure.
"Many people cross the border several times a day to work, go to school or university, or access critical health services.
"Albury Wodonga Health operates the country's only cross-border public health service, with hospital, care and allied services shared either side of the Murray River.
"In the past few hours I've had contact from many people concerned about accessing dialysis and cancer treatment at Albury Wodonga Health's Albury campus.
"There needs to be no doubt in anyone's mind that they will be able to cross the border seamlessly for health issues.
"I don't want to hear of one case where someone on one side of the border is not able to access critical health care on the other because of a health crisis.
"We need guarantees of access and a workable, easily accessible permit system so that people can go to work and businesses can operate."
Dr Haines noted the NSW Premier this morning said that for the next 72 hours some people who normally travel across the border will be restrained until the permit system is in place.
"Applications will open for permits tomorrow, yet we don't have any assurance that permits will be issued by Wednesday, when the closure takes effect," Dr Haines said.
"What will happen if someone needs to cross for a medical reason but they don't have a permit? Will they be told to wait a day? The NSW Government must clarify how this will work. In taking steps to avoid one health crisis, we must ensure we don't create another".
Dr Haines said she had received a briefing from the Prime Minister's office this morning on the border closure and its impact in local communities.
"I will work with the federal and state governments to provide constituents with as much information as possible and to deal with any issues that this closure presents," she said.
"It's clearly a serious decision which the NSW and Victorian governments have taken on the latest scientific, health and population advice to keep our communities safe.
"But I also acknowledge the frustration of people in the North East where there has not been a positive coronavirus diagnosis for weeks across our nine local government areas and only 14 were recorded during three-month shutdown."
Dr Haines said people in Albury Wodonga or in neighbouring communities, such as Walwa and Rutherglen, who believe they will be affected by the border closure should check for updates from Service NSW on its website https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/covid-19.
Service NSW anticipates that permit information will be available from tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday, July 7).
Dr Haines said Indi constituents facing difficulties should contact her Wodonga electorate office on 02 6024 6284 or Wangaratta office on 03 5721 7077, or email email@example.com.
She said constituents could also put comments or concerns in a Facebook message at https://www.facebook.com/helenhainesindi/
The Albury-Wodonga Junior Football League now faces another major hurdle with the Victorian-NSW border set to close.
It comes just days after the league announced a season commencement date of July 26.
The junior competition hosts eight clubs with Wodonga Raiders, Wodonga Maroons and Yarrawonga on the southern side of the border, while Albury, North Albury, St Patricks, Lavington and Corowa-Rutherglen are based in NSW.
Border-town businesses along the Murray River are bracing for Tuesday's midnight closure between NSW and Victoria.
Plumber Kade Bell-Chambers, owner of KBC Plumbing runs his business between the two states and said while there hasn't been a lot of information released yet about how the closure will impact daily jobs, he remained positive toward the adjustments he might need to make.
"There's not much we can do about it, we're in a situation that's never been seen before so I don't think there's a right or wrong way to do," Mr Bell-Chambers said.
"They've had to make their announcement and it's just something we've got to deal with and work out what we're going to do on the run.
"We won't cancel our work, we'll apply for the permits so our staff can cross the border. But if worse comes to worse and they say absolutely no crossing of the border, we'll set up on both sides.
"I've got a couple of plumbers who live in Wodonga and a couple who live here in Albury, so it just means we'll set up two bases either side of the border to keep working."
Tomorrow at 11:59pm, the Border between Victoria & NSW will close to all Victorians. This will cause significant uncertainty for many. If you need to cross the Border, you will need a permit. You can apply for a permit through @ServiceNSW as of tomorrow. My full statement ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/hHilAyGcq1— Helen Haines MP (@helenhainesindi) July 6, 2020
Agricultural experts do not believe the border closure will affect sales, as long as agriculture is classed as an essential service.
Livestock agents and transporters say the impending closure of the border between Victoria and NSW is unlikely to have an adverse effect on their operations.
Michael Unthank, Brian Unthank Rural, Albury, said he believed agents would be given permits, to cross the border, "to do our everyday jobs".
Enforcement will be a matter for NSW Police, but Victorians will be able to apply for permits online for movement across the border.— Jaclyn Symes (@JaclynSymes) July 6, 2020
More details of how this will operate for border communities & industries are currently being worked through.
The peak body for truck drivers has demanded answers from governments after the announcement of the NSW Victorian border closure.
The Transport Workers Union Victorian and Tasmanian Branch wants assurances on a number of issues and their demands include:
- Clarity that trucks will still be allowed to cross state borders and that truck drivers will be exempt from self-isolation requirements
- Clarity about any measures in place at border crossings to check trucks and truck drivers crossing, whether this includes temperature checks on drivers, etc
- Assurances that truck drivers will be supplied at these border crossing with hand sanitisers, masks, gloves and information
- Clarity on any measures in place for truck drivers when they enter another state to protect themselves and others
- Assurances that truck stops will stay open so that drivers can still access rest areas for food and showers.
- Assurances that showers and rest areas at truck stops for truck drivers will be cleaned and disinfected adequately
- Assistance in ensuring that clients pay owner drivers and transport operators on time.
- Assurances that owner drivers who are in financial distress are given financial assistance
What's going on? How do I apply for a travel exemption? I live in Wodonga, can I go to Albury?
We've put together some answers to the most common questions people have about the border closure.
Border business leaders and Albury mayor Kevin Mack have called for the state governments to consider moving the enforced 'border' to below Wodonga or above Albury.
Australian Industry Group's Tim Farrah said people were confused about the announcements.
"We have expressed our displeasure to the states and the Federal Government regarding this over the top response to what is happening in Melbourne - this virus should be managed on a community basis not a state by state basis," he said.
"We are advocating that the 'border' for this pandemic response be made the northern tip of the Albury LGA to remove the need for permits and to ease the traffic congestion between the two cities."
Earlier, Kevin Mack said there were 50,000 movements a day across the border and they were encouraging the premiers to look at putting the border closure south or north of the two cities.
He said he found out about the closure at the same time the rest or Australia did and said the state government should have put more measures in place ahead of the announcement.
A "new phenomena" in Australia's COVID-19 crisis which is now occurring throughout greater Melbourne has prompted the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to backflip on her views about state border closures.
Detailing how the border closure will work when it comes into force at 11.59pm on Tuesday, Ms Berejiklian - who previously opposed border closures - said she had no problem changing her views.
"What is happening now in Victoria is very different, all of the cases are from community transmission, this is unprecedented in Australia," she said.
"When NSW had the record number of cases in Australia back in March, they were a majority from overseas. What is occurring in Victorian has not yet occurred anywhere in Australia, so it needs a new type of response."
She said police and health officials were already stationed at the state's border, stopping anybody from Victorian hotspots coming to NSW.
Member for Albury Justin Clancy and Member for Benambra Bill Tilley have released a joint statement to their communities.
As of midnight Tuesday, Victorians will be prevented from entering NSW without a permit.
There are 15 Border crossings in the Albury and Benambra electorates stretching from Mulwala in the west to Biggara at the eastern edge of the electorates.
There has been mounting concern over the escalation of COVID cases in Melbourne hotspot suburbs and now spreading across the city. Just today we have seen another 127 cases in Melbourne alone.
The NSW government has acted on the best medical advice that seeks to protect the state and Border communities.
Our communities are co-dependent - students, teachers, shoppers, business owners, tradies, health professionals and workers in a range of industries traverse the Border each day. The economies, health care and support networks of both cities are based on a population extending into the districts of 200,000, not just the 50,000 in Albury or 40,000 in Wodonga.
The permits that are to be issued must recognise these issues and that is why the NSW government has not defined "essential workers".
Further details are still to emerge however we understand that people seeking a permit will be able to apply online through Service NSW from Tuesday afternoon - service.nsw.gov.au
Mr Clancy said this would be challenging.
"Our communities have been through so much already, and I am under no illusion as to the impact of this new development. It will be challenging," he said.
"We understand that regional Victoria is so far relatively free of the virus however without measures around Melbourne we wear the impact for the sake of containing the virus.
"We recognise this is going to create hardship and frustration for our communities, but we have to place our faith in the frontline medical teams and contact tracers to drive this down."
Mr Tilley said the action was the direct result of "Daniel Andrews botched hotel quarantine where his arrogance declined the support of the ADF to manage infected travellers."
"Our communities have been incredibly disciplined and now we are paying the penalty for Labor's failures after being COVID-free for more than three months," he said.
"What we continue to advocate is that permits allowing people to cross the Border recognise the unique and co-dependent relationship between Albury and Wodonga.
"NSW is doing this in good faith but make no mistakes this does not give people a leave pass to travel to Melbourne and then think this permit will let them enter NSW."
Albury mayor Kevin Mack said he found out about the closure at the same time everyone else did, when Daniel Andrews announced it.
"We should not be disadvantaged," he said.
Mr Mack said he would be providing information to both premiers.
He said they were flying a bit blind at the moment.
"We'be got 72 hours of hard yards to understand what it will look like," he said.
"We need to be patient."
Mr Mack said there was confusion between what NSW and Victoria had announced.
He said border closures were a reality since COVId-19 hit and the states should have been more prepared.
"Why didn't they have this detail in their hot little hands?," he said.
He said there were 50,000 movements a day across the border and they were encouraging the premiers to look at putting the border closure south or north of the two cities.
"We should have had a better plan in terms of moving forward," he said.
Albury mayor Kevin Mack and Wodonga mayor Anna Speedie address cross-border concerns.
Member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty has used the closure of the NSW Border to renew his call for a 'Rexit'.
"We haven't had a case in the regions for three months and all the cases we had before then came out of Melbourne," he said.
"We are being governed by muppets from Melbourne who are not standing up for Victoria and fighting to keep the border open. Something has to break.
"Yet again, the idea of Rexit - a separation of regional Victoria from Melbourne - makes absolute sense.
"Metropolitan decision-makers are proving yet again their complete ignorance of regional Victoria."
Police and the army will prevent people entering NSW from Victoria without a permit with drones to monitor crossing points.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said border communities would be particularly impacted by the closures in coming days, while NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said crossing the river would be difficult, but not impossible.
The closure is set to start at 11.59pm on Tuesday.
Those looking to enter NSW from Victoria would be able to access exemptions from Service NSW.
The North East has a large number of crossings, including the Hume Highway, Lincoln Causeway, Bethanga Bridge, two bridges between Corowa and Wahgunyah, and two Yarrawonga-Mulwala crossings.
READ THE FULL STORY HERE
Riverina health authorities are "anxious" about possible local coronavirus cases as they prepare for the Victoria-NSW border to shut for the first time in 100 years.
Murrumbidgee Local Health District director of medical services Len Bruce said it was "highly unlikely" that COVID-19 would be present in Victoria and not NSW.
"I don't think anybody would like to close the border for any longer than is absolutely necessary," Dr Bruce said.
"But I wouldn't be surprised and I'm only speculating it wouldn't be less than two weeks because we will only really see the two benefits of a closure and, you know, two to three weeks time.
"We're obviously anxious about it, that there could be cases. So we'll we'll just need to wait and see ... what's going to happen."
A lot of confused and upset on the border today, wondering how the closure will affect them, and why Albury-Wodonga is being impacted by a Melbourne outbreak.
The last time the state border between Albury and Wodonga was closed was during the Spanish Flu just over 100 years ago.
Earlier this year, The Border Mail journalist Anthony Bunn dove into the archives to explore on that time.
WITH his truck laden with fruit, a Kiewa man set out to transport it to Sydney.
But his trip to the market came to an abrupt end at the Union Bridge heading into Albury.
It was there that NSW police told the farmer he could go no further.
He had been snared by the NSW government closing its border to Victoria in the early hours of January 30, 1919, to stop the spread of the Spanish flu.
Unlike the past week, where there has been more than 24 hours notice from South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland as they shut-off their borders due to coronavirus, there was no forewarning 101 years ago.
That Kiewa fellow was left to dump his fruit on the bridge, with an Albury truck picking the food up and taking it away.
Of course he was only one of a multitude caught out by the snap closure, which saw trains and cars halted at Wodonga.
Ms Berejiklian said people in need of critical health care can cross the border.
"Clearly if your child goes to the school across the border that is fine as well," she said.
"We know the next two to three days will be extremely difficult for border communities we anticipate there will be long queues we anticipate police will have their work cutout for them."
Learning from other closures
Residents crossing state lines in a regional community along the QLD-NSW border displayed permits on their dashboards that were sighted by police officers, and the council there negotiated its own system for less-used crossings.
"We're probably very similar to you in that the border is only a line on a map that separates people, but they are one community," he said.
"People went fairly freely backwards and forwards, and trucks went straight though, as they were logistics.
"They [police and QLD Transport workers] would get the occasional person coming across who wasn't allowed, and they would be put into self-quarantine and given a quarantine order."
Mr Fuller said they would be focusing on primary arterial roads but would be using drones and aerial surveillance on the border and police at most crossings.
He is seeking health orders to turn people around and to issue on the spot fines, especially for people who mislead NSW police on their exemption application.
"We want people to take this seriously," he said.
"Do not underestimate the pain all Victorians are going through we don't want that in NSW."
Ms Berejiklian said some flights, train services will be available but only for those who have permits or are returning NSW residents.
"They will have to self isolate," she said.
Ms Berejiklian said anyone with even those mildest symptoms need to be tested.
She said there was a high likelihood people were walking around with the virus.
Ms Berejiklian said anyone who feels they might be impacted by the closure can apply for a permit, but she said it would take two to three days to get the process in place.
She asked everyone to stay home until the processes are in place.
"If you live in Albury Wodonga it's one community," she said.
"Once you have a permit you will be able to maintain that until the border reopens."
Ms Berejiklian hopes the closure is a temporary measure but it comes down to the health advice.
"if you're not in control of the virus you're not in control of the economy," she said.
"I don't want to see this happen for a long time."
Press conference from @GladysB and Commissioner Fuller not at all reassuring as they tell us there will be difficulty crossing the border for the next 72 hours and delays as they work out who are essential workers. How were these plans not in place before announcements made 🤯— Amanda Cohn (@DrAmandaCohn) July 6, 2020
NSW chief Mick Fuller said there were 4 primary road crossings and 33 bridges across the border.
He said police would be seeking Defence assistance and rely on other emergency services.
He said for now, it would be a very slow process to cross the border.
"There will be delays as we work through those who are essential workers," he said.
Mr Fuller said there will be an online application for exemptions to cross the border via Service NSW.
NSW will be monitoring the border, allowing Victoria to focus on controlling coronavirus.
Ms Berejiklian said what was happening in Victoria hasn't happened elsewhere in Australia and requires new action.
She said Mr Morrison and Mr Andrews welcomed the plan.
"I don't want Victorians to feel singled out in any way, this could be NSW at some point," she said.
Ms Berejiklian said there were already police and health officials on the border ensuring no one from hotspots can cross the border.
From midnight tonight, everyone from Melbourne will be banned.
From Tuesday midnight that will extend to all regional Victorians.
"I appreciate the stress it might cause our border communities," she said.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said they were concerned the virus continued to spread through Melbourne and believed it could spread into regional Victoria.
"Don't come," he said to Victorians.
"There will be requirements around self-isolation."
There are currently 69 coronavirus cases in NSW.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said following talks with Mr Andrews and Mr Morrison the border would close midnight Tuesday.
"We wouldn't have taken this step unless we absolutely had to," she said.
Ms Berejiklian said community spread is increasing in Melbourne and she is concerned about it spreading to regional Victoria
"NSW will have a no regret policy," she said.
In light of the action against Victoria, Ms Berejiklian urged other states to lift border closures with NSW.
She said there were about 55 border crossings between Victoria and NSW and closing them would be a mammoth task.
Watch NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speak on the border closure.
Business NSW Murray-Riverina regional manager Andrew Cottrill has condemned the border closure saying the COVID-19 outbreak was a Melbourne issue.
"Today's announcement of the proposed closure of the NSW Victorian border is going to devastate our regional economy," he said.
"We are two cities one community, and this is indeed the case right along this very commercial border.
"People who live in these towns and cities along the Murray need to cross the border multiple times every day.
"The issue is in Melbourne and Business NSW is calling for the two premiers to get together and sort this out by agreeing a travel bubble along the border or closing Melbourne off to the rest of the state as that is a lot more practical than building a Berlin Wall along the river."
Member for Northern Victoria and former Wodonga Councillor Tim Quilty has said the border closer will "rip communities like Albury-Wodonga apart.
"This is a knee-jerk reaction of the very worst kind, made with absolutely no consideration of regional Victoria," Mr Quilty said.
"The border closure is going to rip communities like Wodonga-Albury apart and create havoc for families who live on one side of the border but work or need health treatment or study on the other side.
"Andrews has completely let down all of regional Victoria and should be handing in his resignation immediately. His handling of this situation has been abysmal.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed shutting the Victoria-NSW border for an indefinite period as the coronavirus crisis worsens in his state.
The closure will be effective from midnight Tuesday with a permit system to be put in place for communities such as Albury-Wodonga.
"There will be a facility for people who live in those border communities to travel to and from for the purposes of work, for the purposes of the essential health services they might need," Mr Andrews said.
The border closure will be enforced on the NSW side as to not drain Victorian resources.
Watch the full announcement below: