'Base it on facts': Gladys' spray at Premiers

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has suggested her state counterparts shut their borders on Sydney residents too soon and urged them to "think compassionately" as border decisions devastate Christmas plans.

Every state and territory has effectively shut its border to people from Sydney as the northern beaches cluster in NSW worsens, throwing interstate family reunions and summer holiday plans into chaos.

There are now 83 COVID-19 cases linked to the northern beaches cluster, with 15 new cases reported on Monday.

Ms Berejiklian pointed out the only time NSW closed its border to any jurisdiction was when Victoria's case numbers were in the triple digits.

"The various premiers have made various decisions about borders but I ask people to think about things compassionately and base it on the facts," she said.

"The only time that New South Wales has closed the border to anyone was (with) Victoria. Their case numbers were more than 140 before we took that decision, and it was subsequently and then up to 180.

"I use that fact to put things into perspective. Yes, of course, I'm concerned by what's happening in New South Wales. But every response has to be proportionate to the risk."

The premier urged state and territory governments to "think about the heartbreak" caused by border decisions.

"It impacts not just people in New South Wales, but people in your home states that may not have been reunited with family or friends or significant others for a long period of time," she said.

Ms Berejiklian said the current outbreak was a "volatile situation" but 45 per cent of returned travellers to Sydney were from other states and NSW was carrying a heavy load.

Victorian Minister Martin Foley. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Daniel Pockett
Victorian Minister Martin Foley. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Daniel Pockett

Earlier, there was confusion at Adelaide Airport as passengers who rushed across the South Australian border hours before new rules went into effect at midnight were left panicked and confused when they were ordered into quarantine anyway.

As at 12.01am today, all travellers into South Australia from the greater Sydney region need to complete 14 days of quarantine on arrival, either at a home or hotel, at their own cost.

But passengers on Virgin flight VA436 from Sydney who arrived in Adelaide around 8pm on Sunday - hours before the new rules came into effect - were told at the airport they had to go into 14 days' quarantine.

Travellers said they were confused by the directive and waited on the tarmac for hours as arrivals were processed, according to the ABC.

Meanwhile, at South Australian road checkpoints, drivers were also told they had to immediately self-isolate upon entry and many opted to turn around, only to realise later they'd been given the wrong information, the Adelaide Advertiser reports.

In a statement shortly after midnight, South Australia Police clarified travellers from greater Sydney who arrived in the state before midnight did not need to go into quarantine.

However, as of now, all arrivals from greater Sydney, as well as the Central Coast and Wollongong, have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in South Australia and anyone from the northern beaches region is barred from entering the state.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said the next 24 to 48 hours will be critical. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel Carrett
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said the next 24 to 48 hours will be critical. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel Carrett

Thousands of Australians' travel plans have been thrown into chaos as states hardened their borders with Sydney in response to the worsening outbreak in the northern beaches.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has declared "red zones" in NSW, barring residents from Greater Sydney and the Central Coast from entering the state in a press conference on Sunday afternoon.

Shortly after, South Australian Premier Steven Marshall announced a "hard border" between anyone from the northern beaches area.

Queensland's Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed it would also be closing the border to NSW residents in greater Sydney from 1am Monday.

Queenslanders currently in NSW will be given until 1am on Tuesday to get home. Any state residents that return after that date will have to quarantine at home and take a test.

Western Australia also reinstated its hard border with NSW from midnight Saturday.

The Australian Capital Territory said residents who had been to Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Illawarra Shoalhaven and Nepean Blue Mountain areas would have to quarantine for 14 days if they returned to the ACT after midnight on Sunday.

The Northern Territory declared the areas to be a hotspot effective immediately, and said anyone from the areas would have to undertake 14 days of supervised quarantine at a personal cost of $2500.

Mr Andrews said: "From midnight tonight all of Greater Sydney and the Central Coast is a red zone - you cannot come to Victoria."

"If you do then you will have to hotel quarantine for 14 days.

"If you are a returning Victorian, if this is where you live, then you have an extra 24 hours to get home and quarantine in your home. You won't have to go to a hotel. If, however, as a returning Victorian you arrive after midnight Monday, then you will go into mandatory hotel quarantine," he explained.

Elsewhere, Mr Marshall told South Australians: "As of midnight tonight anybody who has been in the Greater Sydney area will be required to complete 14 days of suitable quarantine on arrival.

"They will need to have testing on arrival, plus on day five and on day 12."

He added: "Anybody who has been on the northern beaches will not be able to come in. We have a hard border arrangement now with anybody who has been on the northern beaches. Anybody who has been in regional New South Wales will be required to have that testing, but they will not be required to isolate at this point."

On Saturday, Premier Mark McGowan similarly said the hard WA border, which means all NSW residents will need to apply for an exemption to access the state, was necessary to keep his state safe.

A rapidly growing virus cluster on Sydney's northern beaches is shaping to be the outbreak that stole Christmas, with the holiday plans of hundreds of thousands of Aussies now hanging in the balance.

With December 25 just days away, contact tracers are now racing against the clock to get a handle on NSW's new COVID-19 cluster, with a new lockdown health order for the northern beaches coming into effect at 5pm on Saturday.

The last time the area saw infections run anywhere close to that figure was during March, one government official told The Australian, after the Ruby Princess docked in Circular Quay.

Mr McGowan's decision was made following an emergency meeting of the nation's chief health officers.

"This is the reality of living in a world with COVID," Mr McGowan said.

"Given the size of the Sydney outbreak … NSW will move to be classified as a medium-risk state."

Mr McGowan said it was a "difficult decision" to make.

 

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS TRAVEL PLANS

As for other Sydney residents, there were chaotic scenes at Sydney Airport on Friday as hundreds made the decision to move their trips forward - with all of Australia's other states and territories moving swiftly to reimpose border restrictions for the northern beaches.

These are the current rules. As it's an unfolding situation, it's not known how long these restrictions will last.

TASMANIA: Tasmania has imposed quarantine for Sydneysiders. People heading to the apple isle must quarantine for 14 days in their home, or if they are unable to, quarantine in a hotel at their own cost. If you completed a Tas e-Travel registration and indicated you had been in NSW since December 11, your pass will be cancelled and you need to reapply.

QUEENSLAND: Queensland has stopped short of shutting its border to NSW, but there are new rules in light of the northern beaches outbreak.

Anyone who has been in the northern beaches region on or since December 11 and are already in Queensland are required to get tested and quarantine at home or in accommodation until 14 days after the date you left.

If you arrived in Queensland on a flight from Sydney after midnight on December 18, the same rule applies. If you arrive in Queensland after 1am on December 19, you'll be required to go into hotel quarantine at your own expense, and get tested.

NORTHERN TERRITORY: The northern beaches is considered a virus hot spot and Territorians planning to visit the region should rethink their plans.

People entering the NT after visiting the northern beaches will have to undergo 14 days of mandatory quarantine on return to the NT, in Darwin or Alice Springs, at a cost of $2500 per person. Anyone in the NT who was in the northern beaches after December 11 needs to be tested and isolate while waiting for results.

ACT: People in Canberra are advised not to travel to the northern beaches region. People in the ACT who have been there since December 11 must self-isolate and get tested.

RELATED: Photo proves that Sydney doesn't get it

 

While her West Australian counterpart Mark McGowan has banned all NSW travellers from entering his state. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian
While her West Australian counterpart Mark McGowan has banned all NSW travellers from entering his state. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

VICTORIA: A permit system has been introduced from December 19 for all NSW residents travelling to Victoria.

People who had been in the northern beaches since December 11 will not be allowed into the state.

Victorians are being asked reconsider travelling to NSW, with Health Minister Martin Foley saying the rapidly evolving outbreak means the border rules could change with little notice.

Victoria has divided NSW into three zones - red, amber and green. The northern beaches is a high-risk red zone, which means people who have been there cannot enter.

Greater Sydney is designated as an orange zone, and people arriving to Victoria from that region are encouraged to get tested regardless of COVID symptoms. They must self-isolate while awaiting results.

Regional NSW is considered a green zone, and travellers from that region are asked to monitor for symptoms.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Anyone arriving from NSW from Friday onwards will have to quarantine for two weeks.

If you travelled to WA from NSW since December 11, you must get tested and then self-isolate until you get a negative result.

"I understand this is a difficult period for many," Premier Mark McGowan said on Friday.

"I understand this must be very upsetting for families looking to reunite and spend Christmas together. I, like many people, am worried about what might happen to our friends and

family that live in New South Wales. We're thinking of them, and we support the people of New South Wales. This is going to be a very different Christmas for many people."

West Australians are advised not to go into NSW if they don't need to, and other travellers should avoid travelling from WA via NSW.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: South Australia is keeping its border open with NSW but anyone in the state who has been in the northern beaches since December 11 must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days Anyone who has not yet left NSW for SA, but has been to the northern beaches since December 11, will be barred from entering.

People in SA who have been to the Avalon RSL or the Avalon Bowlo since December 11 must immediately go into hotel quarantine.

SA will reintroduce a border permit for anyone entering from interstate. As part of the permit application, travellers will be asked if they have been in the northern beaches since December 11.

RELATED: Huge COVID-19 threat facing NSW

COULD SYDNEY BE HEADED FOR ANOTHER LOCKDOWN?

The northern beaches might not be the only area set for a restriction-heavy start to summer, with Ms Berejiklian warning more cases could lead to tough new measures for the rest of the NSW capital.

The Premier said both widespread restrictions and mandated lockdown measures in some areas could be considered "if we feel that risk is there", though said she hoped it would "not come to that".

"We don't want to go down the mandatory path but we will if we have to. But at this stage, let's see how the next 24-48 hours go," she said.

"I will not hesitate to take on health advice if (NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant) and her team give us advice to the alternative. At this stage we believe what we have in place is commensurate or matches what the risk is."

Epidemiologist Adrian Esterman told news.com.au that while NSW authorities seem to be backing their contract tracers to get on top of the outbreak without having to resort to stricter measures, once daily cases exceed 50, it could become difficult to keep up.

Professor Esterman said Sydney could kill off the virus with a tough three to four day lockdown, adding the measure "might work" if the cluster stayed localised in the northern beaches.

Originally published as Sydneysiders hit with more border restrictions

Northern beaches locals line up to get tested for COVID-19. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Jeremy Piper
Northern beaches locals line up to get tested for COVID-19. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Jeremy Piper

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