Victoria’s Health Minister has warned residents not to travel to all of Sydney, in an enormous blow for domestic aviation.
Martin Foley said the state could soon shift to requiring mandatory quarantine if the outbreak in NSW’s Northern Beaches worsens.
On Friday morning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian revealed there had been ten new COVID cases, and urged residents to continue to stay at home for the next few days. In response, many states and territories has also enforced quarantine.
However, it is Victoria’s warning that will be the most damaging, as domestic aviation gears up for what should have been its busiest week of the year. Queensland only opened to Greater Sydney on 1 December and NSW to Victoria on 23 November.
“If you are coming from Sydney and you don’t have to come please don’t come,” Minister Foley said. “Come when this is over. If you’re travelling to Sydney and you don’t have to, please don’t.”
New rules introduced in Victoria will see a traffic light permit system introduced for anyone entering from NSW. Those from low-risk “green zones”, currently most of regional NSW, can enter freely; those from “orange zones”, currently Greater Sydney, are encouraged to take a test on arrival; while those from “red zones”, now including the Northern Beaches, cannot enter at all.
“Victorians have worked really hard to get to 49 days ‘community transmission free’ of this virus,” Foley said. “We are not going to put that at risk, we will take all the steps the evidence tells us to protect that.”
Significantly, Foley then warned that conditions are “expected” to deteriorate and that could cause more wide-scale entry restrictions.
Meanwhile, Queensland said anyone who had been to Sydney’s Northern Beaches since Friday, December 11, would need to get tested and self-isolate for 14 days.
Similar restrictions were enforced in other states and territories.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged the public to have faith in NSW’s ability to bring the outbreak under control.
“NSW had demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to deal with these challenges and I retain full confidence in their ability to do that,” PM Morrison said.
“The sooner we’re able to move through these decisions over the next few days, I believe the sooner we’ll get to a point, I hope, that the early concerns we hope may be alleviated, but it’s still too early to say.
“There is no magic formula that makes the pandemic just go away.”
However, he added he didn’t have a “serious concern” that the outbreak would hurt the nation’s recovery.
“I’m quite certain that, as we move into next year … we’ll see the comeback continue.
“I understand that there’s some uncertainty and some anxiety at this very moment but, as we’ve seen in the past … they’ll work through it.”
Late last month, Australian Aviation reported how Virgin Australia recorded its largest day of sales since COVID, shortly after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her state would open to Sydney.
The business added that more than 60 per cent of flights booked were for travel in the lead up to and during Christmas, with searches for routes between NSW and Queensland doubling.