Preparations begin for reopening of NSW-Vic border after 137-day COVID closure - ABC News  11/22/2020 00:20:07 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has praised the NSW-Victorian border communities for their patience on the eve of border restrictions being lifted after more than four months.

  • The NSW-VIC border will open at 12.01am on November 23, 137 days after it closed due to COVID-19
  • About 5 million cars and 500,000 heavy vehicles have gone through border checkpoints in that time
  • Eleven COVID-19 cases were recorded in hotel quarantine

Speaking from the key border town of Albury, NSW, Ms Berejiklian said she understood what people had been through over the 137 days the border had been closed.

"We know how difficult this has been for our communities in the New South Wales-Victorian border regions to put up with the border closure," she said.

"We never want to see this ever again. This is the last time in our lifetime this border is closed and we know tomorrow morning after midnight it will be a whole new era for both of our states."

Ms Berejiklian said about 600 NSW police officers and 500 Australian Defence Force personnel had been working at any given time to manage the border controls since they came into force on July 8.

"I'm just pleased that life will get back to normal tomorrow and I want to thank the community for your patience, your resilience and also for being a great example to the rest of New South Wales," she said.

A line-up of people checking cars on a road.
Hundreds of police and ADF personnel manned checkpoints at any one time.(AAP: Lukas Coch)

'Free border community'

The Premier added tomorrow's reopening would mean NSW would be the only state in Australia to have no border restrictions, as well as welcoming in New Zealanders.

"We are a free border community in New South Wales," she said.


Ms Berejiklian said she felt more confident today about the lifting of the border than when she made the call on November 3, because of the number of days for no local transmissions for both states.

She said measures in NSW, including the introduction of mandatory QR codes sign-in at venues from tomorrow, would continue to keep the state safe.

"We need to mindful of that even more, not to let our guard down, especially over summer when people are getting together for Christmas and New Year," she said.

"We just have to stay on high alert but appreciate the freedoms here in our state that no other states have."

International students on the radar

Ms Berejikilian said she was pushing for international students to be included in the weekly cap of 3,000 overseas travellers coming into Sydney from next year.

She said other states "simply aren't doing their fair share" in terms of bringing back Australians from overseas and she hoped that would change after Christmas.

She said NSW had brought in more than 100,000 Australians since the pandemic started.

Crews were dismantling border controls at Albury on Sunday morning.
Crews were dismantling border controls at Albury on Sunday morning.(ABC News: Mikaela Ortolan)

If the burden was spread across more states next year, it could open up potential for NSW to welcome back international students to support universities, she said.

"I do think we needto have a conversation in the NewYear about keeping jobs in New SouthWales and part of that is, I don'twant to see universities lay offhundreds and hundreds of workersbecause international students can'tget back in."

1 million border permits issued

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller reiterated gratitude for the community support.

He said police and other personnel had steered 5 million cars and 500,000 heavy vehicles through border checkpoints over the closure.

About 1 million permits had been issued, with about 1,000 arrests for criminal behaviour.

"We've only had a handful of people doing the wrong thing in terms of COVID," he said.

It comes as NSW records its 15th day of no locally-transmitted coronavirus cases and Victoria reported its 23rd consecutive day of no cases.

There were 11 cases recorded in NSW hotel quarantine.

NSW Health said 12,012 tests were done in the reporting period to 8:00pm last night.

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NSW Police chief Mick Fuller thanks Albury-Wodonga residents for their support


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