Australia rushing to implement permit system before coronavirus-sparked border closure

Henrietta Brewer
July 7, 2020

As of Sunday, Victoria state reported 127 new coronavirus cases - an increase from the daily average of 109 cases being reported across the entire continent in the last week.

The border dividing Australia's two most populous states has been shut down for the first time in a century in hopes of containing a growing coronavirus outbreak.

From midnight on Wednesday, everyone in Melbourne will be required to stay home unless travelling to work, studying, shopping for food or attending medical appointments.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews briefs the media on conditions concerning the COVID-19 situation in Melbourne, Australia. Restaurants, cafes and bars will be able to provide takeaway service only, gyms and hair salons closed, household gatherings limited to two people and the current school vacation extended.

Victoria also reported two deaths, the first nationally in more than two weeks, increasing the death toll throughout the country to 106. "And pretending that it is because we all want it to be over is not the answer".

"We know we're on the cusp of something very, very bad if we don't take these steps today", Mr Andrews said. It is indeed part of the problem.

Victoria's capital city, Melbourne, saw a rise in infections, which led to stricter social-distancing orders.

Australian police have announced they will use "drones and other aerial surveillance" to patrol the border between New South Wales and Victoria. The highly porous border, with 55 roads, is travelled daily by commuters and school children, while some businesses straddle both sides.

With around 8,500 cases and relatively few deaths, Australia had seemingly managed to curb the spread of Covid-19 and began gradually easing quarantine restrictions in May. Large fines and up to six months imprisonment have been touted for people who cross the state line.

Outside of the border towns, Victoria residents will be able to apply for a permit, but will need to prove a special need for their travel.

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