New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has lashed out at the Victorian Government saying state border restrictions should have been dropped “quite a while back”.
In a daily press conference where the NSW government confirmed six new local cases of COVID-19, Ms Berejiklian said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had not made contact with her about potential areas of Sydney being able to travel to the southern state in the coming days.
The new cases in NSW are linked to a man who was identified as a positive case on Saturday, however the state’s government is urging for an increase in daily testing rates to ensure there are no further outbreaks.
Ms Berejiklian said the border closures between Victoria and Sydney are against Commonwealth health advice, which on Sunday confirmed there were no COVID-19 hot spots in Australia.
“He‘s not been in touch with me at all but I also say that (border opening) should have occurred quite a while back because we don’t have a hot spot in New South Wales,” Ms Berejiklian said of her Victorian counterpart.
“We are, of course, dealing with a result of an outbreak from a month ago, but I think everybody would agree closing a border of such significance is a really big deal and I stress that we waited until Victoria had in excess of — I think it was 180 cases they had the day after we announced the border closure.”
Victoria and all other states and territories closed borders to Greater Sydney following the northern beaches cluster outbreak which occurred just before Christmas.
“I can‘t understand why the border was closed in the first place and why the attitude of certain governments is what it is,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“There isn’t anywhere in Australia that’s currently being designated as a hotspot.
“So why shouldn’t people be able to return home? And why shouldn’t Australians be able to move around freely?”
On Saturday, Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed travel restrictions to Brisbane would be dropped and parts of Greater Sydney would be permitted to enter the state in the next “couple of days”.
Selected local government areas in Sydney’s west are expected to still have travel restrictions in place while local case numbers are being reported.
“There will be a significant shift in the next couple of days,” Mr Andrews said.
“These are not easy decisions … [but] I’m not about to cherry pick and only follow the advice that’s convenient from a political point of view.”
The Victorian government has not confirmed if the six newly acquired cases in Sydney would change its timeline in easing border restrictions.
People from greater Sydney are not allowed to enter Victoria without an exemption or permitted worker permit.
Those trying to enter via land border will be turned away, but those trying to cross the border via land or sea will face a fine of up to $4957.
If Mr Andrews follows through on his suggestion of easing border restrictions to Sydney, the city would likely become an orange zone, which would require all those crossing the border to apply for a permit and be tested within the first three days of arrival.