The hard border closure between Victoria and NSW is back less than a month since checkpoints disappeared from Albury-Wodonga and other Murray River towns.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews predictably pressed the button on a border closure return on Sunday in response to the worsening COVID-19 situation in Sydney with a further 30 cases reported in the previous 24 hours, mainly in the Northern Beaches area.
Residents from Greater Sydney including the Northern Beaches and Central Coast were declared off-limits by Mr Andrews from midnight Sunday with Victorians returning from those three areas granted an extra day to get back on the proviso they get tested for coronavirus ahead of a 14-day quarantine period at home.
In a major change to arrangements which previously existed when the NSW government closed the border in July, an expanded "bubble" of council areas on both sides of the border means residents only need to show their driver's licence at the checkpoints to cross rather than apply for a permit.
Permits had been required for border residents for 48 hours.
Victorian residents in Alpine, Benalla, Indigo, Moira, Shepparton, Towong, Wangaratta and Wodonga council areas and NSW residents in Albury, Berrigan, Edward River, Federation, Greater Hume, Hay, Lockhart, Murray River, Murrumbidgee, Snowy Valleys and Wagga are among those who can cross over the border by showing their licence.
"The basic message is a very clear one," Mr Andrews said.
"If you are from Greater Sydney do not come to Melbourne, do not go anywhere in Victoria.
"As far as Victorians are concerned don't travel to Greater Sydney.
"I can't be any clearer than that.
"There is a problem in Greater Sydney."
IN OTHER NEWS
Business Wodonga chairman Graham Jenkin said the twin cities were set for more disruption.
"It is going to be very inconvenient again," he said.
"However it will be a simpler permit system only having to use a driver's licence.
"Christmas time will make things more and more difficult as people moving around to family and friends, complete Christmas shopping and those still working needing to get to work."
"Fortunately most of the schools have now shut up for shop for the year."
Mr Andrews said he couldn't pinpoint how long the border would be shut, but was adamant it would be longer than Wednesday when the NSW government would re-visit its response to the Northern Beaches outbreak.
"They will make decisions about their state, we will make decisions about ours," he said.
"We've got something precious and we intend to safeguard it.
"They will be closed for as long as the public health advice tells me they should be.
"They will not be lifted in the next couple of days.
"Exactly how long we cannot be certain."
The Victorian response has been driven by NSW's decision not to enforce mandatory mask wearing rules and stay at home orders across Sydney.
Anyone from Greater Sydney and Central Coast found trying to enter Victoria in breach of its order will be subject to 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine.
Arrangements for ACT residents wanting to travel to Victoria will be announced in coming days.
HOW BORDER CLOSURE 2.0 WORKS
- Residents and visitors to zone since December 11 banned from Victoria
- Victorians in zone must abide by stay-at-home orders until at least Wednesday
GREATER SYDNEY, CENTRAL COAST
- Effective 11.59pm Sunday
- Residents and visitors to zones since December 11 banned from Victoria
- Victorians given until 11.59pm Monday to return home
- They must get exemption from Service Victoria, get a test within 24 hours and isolate at home
- Penalties up to $5000 apply
- Those arriving after Monday deadline must serve 14 days mandatory hotel quarantine
REST OF REGIONAL NSW
- Residents must get permit to enter Victoria
- Those in designated border communities can use driver's licence to travel between Victoria and NSW at border
- Checkpoints reinstated
- Length of closure to be determined
DESIGNATED BORDER COMMUNITIES
VICTORIA: Alpine, Benalla, Bendigo, Buloke, Campaspe, East Gippsland, Gannawarra, Indigo, Loddon, Mildura, Moira, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Towong, Wangaratta, Wodonga, Yarriambiack
NSW: Albury, Balranald, Bega Valley, Berrigan, Broken Hill, Edward River, Federation, Greater Hume, Hay, Lockhart, Murray River, Murrumbidgee, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys, Wagga Wagga, Wentworth