The Victorian government is eyeing a quarantine exemption for returning overseas travellers who have done their time in isolation after arriving in Sydney.
Premier Dan Andrews revealed on Monday that he and his advisers were engaged in late Sunday night discussions on how to spare Victorians from quarantining twice.
It would apply to Victorians returning from overseas who have completed a fortnight in mandatory hotel quarantine in Sydney.
The current plan revolves around making the airport in Sydney an exemption from the “red zone” from which people can’t travel south of the border without quarantining for 14 days.
“We are working to excise the airport from the red zone, so if you were to travel from a hotel to the airport you have not essentially visited the hotspot – you are not part of the red zone,” Mr Andrews said.
“There might still be some testing and a short time you have to stay home.”
Other parts of the plan that were discussed included mandating the person wears a mask the entire way from Sydney to Victoria, and that the person doesn’t leave the airport in Sydney.
“You’ve got to go from the hotel, to the airport, to our airport,” Mr Andrews said.
He said the details would be ironed out to ensure those affected by the plan knew what to expect.
Mr Andrews said he understood the sudden imposition of a new border regime was tough on people, but defended the decision to declare all of Greater Sydney a hotspot along with the coronavirus-stricken northern beaches.
“When you get advice there is a deteriorating set of circumstances in Sydney that means there’s a danger there – you have to act,” he said.
“As difficult as (the border closure) is, and I appreciate it’s very challenging, that’s nothing compared to a third wave.”
Victorian officials, keen to keep community transmission to zero after eliminating a devastating second wave of infections, decided over the weekend to expand the parts of NSW considered “red zones” to include a swath of land stretching south to Wollongong and north to the NSW Central Coast.
People who live in those zones or have recently set foot there will not be issued a border pass and will not be able to enter Victoria for the time being.
Victorian residents who are in those areas will be allowed back but must get tested within 24 hours, self-quarantine at home for a fortnight and be checked up on by authorities.
They must first register for an exemption on the Service Victoria website and have until midnight Monday to re-enter. After that, anyone who enters the state, Victorian or not, will have to quarantine in a hotel.