Thousands of NSW residents will be excluded from a border bubble with Victoria as the Andrews government moves to prevent coronavirus from spilling over the state line.
The changes, announced on Tuesday, are set to cause headaches for some businesses that have workers spread across both states.
The City of Wagga Wagga, Hay Shire Council, Lockhart Shire Council and Murrumbidgee Council areas will be removed from border bubble arrangements allowing relative freedom of movement over the Murray River, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Tuesday.
He said a tightening of border restrictions was unavoidable without a “ring of steel” of police checkpoints to limit movement out of Sydney. NSW recorded 172 new locally transmitted cases of coronavirus on Tuesday as Victoria emerged from lockdown after an outbreak seeded by Sydney removalists.
Mr Andrews, who unsuccessfully called for checkpoints around Sydney last week, has flagged a further tightening of border rules in coming days.
“I take no pleasure in having to essentially lock out those four communities from Victoria. But there’s a refusal to lock people in Sydney into Sydney, so therefore I have no choice but to make these changes,” he said.
The four municipalities will now be considered extreme risk zones and residents from those areas will need a specified worker permit, transit permit or an exemption to enter Victoria. All four councils are geographically closer to Melbourne than Sydney.
Some of Emma Ginnivan’s 15-person team was working away from home in Wagga Wagga when Mr Andrews revealed the area was no longer part of the border bubble on Tuesday.
Ms Ginnivan works at Red Airconditioning, a family-owned business based in Albury, and some of her employees live in NSW but others live in the Victorian towns of Wodonga, Wangaratta, Rutherglen, Killara and Leneva.