Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said anyone coming to Victoria from Sydney’s northern beaches “will spend Christmas in hotel quarantine” if they travel into the state.
Over 52,000 permits have been issued for entry into Victoria from New South Wales since midnight on Friday. The permit system remains unchanged for the moment but the state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said a border closure was “in play” over the next 24-48 hours and the state was watching to see if other areas of Sydney would be declared “red zones”.
Queensland is reintroducing a border pass system as of Sunday, with applications open from Saturday night.
Anyone coming from the northern beaches will need an exemption and will go into hotel quarantine. Returning Queensland residents who have visited the area since December 11 will also need to quarantine.
Queensland’s new rules will require anyone coming from Greater Sydney or the Central Coast to be tested on arrival and to self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
“This is about making sure we keep all Queenslanders safe while people travel around all the Christmas holidays,” Queensland’s Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.
The Tasmanian government declared Greater Sydney a medium-risk area on Saturday, meaning that from midnight any arrivals from Sydney are to go into quarantine either in a suitable residence or hotel. Travellers from the northern beaches are barred from the state.
“I understand the consequences of this decision at this time of year,” Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said.
“It is unfortunate but I make no apology for doing the right thing in terms of the health and safety of Tasmanians.”
Following restrictions put in place in recent days, anyone travelling to Western Australia from NSW is required to isolate for 14 days and get a coronavirus test.
People travelling to South Australia and who have been on the northern beaches during the outbreak will be required to quarantine. The state has reintroduced its border crossing application system.
Anyone travelling from the northern beaches to the ACT or Northern Territory will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Federal Liberal MP Jason Falinski, whose electorate of Mackellar is on the northern beaches, said the definition of hotspot being used in restrictions was too broad and unfairly capturing low-risk people.
“Everyone on the northern beaches is in the same basket even though there hasn’t been anything south of Mona Vale of great concern. People [in these unaffected areas] are saying it has as much to do with them as it does with someone in St Ives,” he told the Herald.
Mr Falinski said the outbreak was still very focused and northern beaches residents had been responsive to health advice, including by wearing masks.
He said restricting people from travelling who had spent a small amount of time in the northern beaches was “pretty absurd”
On Saturday, Sydney Airport was full of travellers rushing to get home or to family Christmas gatherings interstate.
Kerrie Webster, a sterilisation technician from Wollongong, was originally heading up to Queensland on Wednesday but brought forward her plans and left for the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.
“When the situation got bad I decided to change my flight and go today just in case,” Mrs Webster, 64, said.
“I haven’t seen my granddaughters for 12 months now. I would have been so disappointed [to get stuck in NSW] so I thought it was best to go up there while I could.”
Chris Corrieri, a 26-year-old Belmore resident who moved from Adelaide a year ago, hasn’t seen most of his South Australia-based relatives since February.
“I got to have mum and dad visit about two months ago but other than that we haven’t seen anyone,” he said.
Mr Corrieri and his fiancée were always planning to fly to Adelaide on Saturday for a long-awaited family Christmas and stuck with the itinerary because it was too expensive to bring the flights forward.
Mike Yarrow, who was in Sydney for a three-day business trip, is relieved to be returning to Melbourne where the coronavirus is currently contained and restrictions have eased.
“I almost got stuck here in NSW.” he said. “It’s a good time to get out.”
With Ashleigh McMillan and Toby Crockford
Fergus Hunter is a crime reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Jennifer Duke is an economics correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra.