Victoria has recorded another two Covid-19 cases and shut its border to the whole of New South Wales from 11.59pm on Friday.
Anyone entering by road will be turned around and anyone entering by air will be forced into 14-day hotel quarantine unless they have an exemption.
The move will leave tens of thousands of Victorians shut out of their own state unless they race home tonight or on New Year’s Day.
Anyone coming from Sydney is already locked out and anyone who has been in the Blue Mountains or Wollongong will be barred from 11.59pm on Thursday night.
Residents in border communities can use their driving licenses as passports to freely cross the border checkpoints.
There are now eight active locally acquired cases in Victoria, breaking a 61 day streak of no community infections after the state defeated its horror second wave.
A long line of cars wait in a queue at a drive through covid19 testing facility in Dandenong, Melbourne
There are now eight active locally acquired cases in Victoria, breaking a 61 day streak of no community infections. Pictured: Testing on New Year’s Eve at Dandenong
Three cases identified on Wednesday night visited Melbourne’s Smile Buffalo Thai in Black Rock on December 21 at the same time as a Victorian who had returned from Sydney where there is an ongoing outbreak.
Three close contacts tested positive on Thursday morning and a further two close contacts were diagnosed on Thursday afternoon.
There are about 70 close contacts in isolation across Melbourne.
The first cases of the latest outbreak were two Melbourne women in their 40s and 70-year-old female relative. The returned traveller is awaiting test results.
The outbreak has prompted Victoria to re-introduce compulsory mask wearing and tighten restrictions for New Year’s Eve with private gatherings limited to 15, down from 30.
Thousands of Victorians rushed to get tested on Thursday, haunted by the memory of a brutal four-month lockdown over the winter. Some testing sites had to turn people away because they were overwhelmed.
Acting Premier Jactina Allan apologised for the border restrictions but said they are necessary to stamp out the spread of the highly contagious virus.
Victorian Police are seen patrolling checkpoints in Mallacoota after new border restrictions were placed with NSW, banning residents from Wollongong and the Blue Mountains
Healthcare workers are seen at drive through testing facility at Springers Leisure Centre in Cheltenham, Melbourne, Thursday, December 31
What are the New Year’s Eve restrictions?
From 5pm on Thursday, people in Melbourne will only be able to have 15 visitors in their homes, down from 30.
The limit of 15 includes residents, but not children under 12.
Masks will be mandatory while indoors.
‘This is not an easy choice, closing borders, putting in place restrictions, is never an easy choice to make, certainly not one we wanted to be making and announcing on a day that is supposed to be about celebrating,’ she said.
‘As we have seen throughout the course of 2020, this has been a difficult year, with many difficult decisions to make, as a consequence of a virus that causes great damage to the health and wellbeing of our community.
‘Unfortunately the virus doesn’t expire at midnight tonight and we have to remain vigilant.’
The outbreak promoted Western Australia to shut its border to Victoria from 12.01am on Friday.
Health Minister Martin Foley said contact tracers had identified a direct link with Sydney’s outbreak.
‘Now that we’ve got links to the NSW outbreak here in Victoria, we’re responding really, really quickly to get on top of that.
‘This is a very serious situation that Victorians are facing, having sacrificed so much over the course of this year,’ Mr Foley said.
‘Victorians know how wildly infectious this virus can be.’
Two of the women who tested positive on Wednesday live in Mitcham and Hallam, and were eating together at the Thai restaurant on December 21.
On a separate table was another person from Mitcham, whose close contact has since tested positive.
Victoria’s Commander of COVID-19 response Jeroen Weimar said extensive contact tracing was underway.
Pictured: Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in Blackrock, Melbourne. Victoria’s first three local acquired Covid cases are linked to the venue
Acting Premier Jactina Allan apologised to those who had planned a New Year’s Eve party but said these steps were necessary to stamp out the spread of the highly contagious virus (pictured, Melbourne in 2019 at New Year)
Acting Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan addresses the media during a press conference in Melbourne, Thursday, December 31
Melbourne exposure sights
If you have visited any of the locations listed in the table below during the date indicated you must get tested and isolate until you get a negative result.
Black Rock Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant 21/12/20, 7pm-9:30pm
Cape Schank National Golf Club, The Cups Drive 30/12/20, 11.40am-1.30pm
Doveton Holy Family Parish Doveton Catholic 26/12/20, 4:00pm-6:00pm
Fountain Gate Shopping Centre Kmart, Big W, Target, Millers, King of Gifts, Lo Costa 26/12/20, 9:00am-11:00am
Glen Waverley Century City Walk 28/12/20, 2:45pm showing of Wonder Woman Gold Class
Glen Waverley Mocha Jo’s 28/12/20, 1:30pm-1:45pm
Mentone/Parkdale Beach 27/12/20, 10:00am-4:30pm
Oakleigh Katialo restaurant, Eaton Mall 28/12/20, 7:00pm-7:10pm
As the case total in New South Wales continues to climb – with 10 new cases announced on Thursday – Mr Foley warned Victorians to reconsider any travel plans.
‘To be really clear – do not go to New South Wales,’ he said before the borders shut down was announced.
‘If you are a Victorian in New South Wales, well beyond Wollongong and the Blue Mountains, come back. You do not want to be caught on the wrong side of a rapidly evolving situation.
‘We are ahead of this. We need to stay ahead of it. If that means the public health advice is to move further on border restrictions, that is what we will do.’
Royal Brighton Yacht Club has been closed for deep cleaning after a positive case visited between 12pm and 2pm on 29 December.
The club said the person sat outside and did not go inside or use any facilities.
Tens of thousands of Boxing Day shoppers at a busy Melbourne Westfield have been ordered to isolate after six stores were visited by coronavirus patients.
Six stores in the Fountain Gate shopping centre were visited by an infected shopper during the massive day of sales, including Kmart, Big W, Target, Millers, King of Gifts, and Lo Costa cafe.
Tens of thousands of Boxing Day shoppers at a busy Melbourne Westfield have been ordered to isolate after six stores were visited by coronavirus patients (pictured, women in Chadstone)
People at several other locations around Melbourne must also isolate until they get a negative test result.
The Holy Family Parish Doveton church and the Parkdale beach were also visited by confirmed cases.
The Century City Walk, Mocha Jo’s and the Katialo restaurant were also visited by infected residents.
There are seven active cases in hotel quarantine in Victoria and a 15-year-old girl who is isolating at home after testing positive upon returning from NSW.
The Westfield at Fountain Gate shopping centre was visited by infected shoppers on Boxing Day who went inside six different stores
— to www.dailymail.co.uk