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Free for all: Victoria, NSW throw borders completely open, with or without jabs

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Victoria has completely thrown open its border to NSW, even to those not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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Premier Daniel Andrews and NSW counterpart Dominic Perrottet issued a joint statement on Thursday night announcing the states would open their borders to each other from Friday.

Travel between the two states had already been unrestricted for the fully vaccinated from Monday.

But from 11.59pm on Thursday, all remaining NSW and ACT orange zones were downgraded to green under Victoria’s travel permit system.

“This means, for the first time in more than six months in Victoria, all local government areas in all states and territories across Australia will be green zones for the purposes of entering Victoria,” the joint statement said.

The change allows all travellers and workers to enter Victoria without any testing or quarantine requirements, including unvaccinated people, if they apply for a permit beforehand to verify they are not COVID-positive or a close contact.

Fully vaccinated Victorians can also freely travel into NSW unless they’ve been to a place of high concern, but those over 16 who are not double-dosed still cannot for recreation or a holiday.

Perrottet said the “free travel” announcement showed the path back to normality, while his Victorian counterpart thanked those on both sides of the border for rolling up their sleeves to get vaccinated.

“Victoria and New South Wales have been through so much over the last few months, and we’re pleased that more families will now be able to reunite just in time for Christmas and the holiday season,” Mr Andrews said.

But Queensland has announced changes to its border bubble with New South Wales, restricting travel by residents from Moree.

From midnight last night, people living in Moree will no longer be permitted to cross into Queensland apart from in exceptional circumstances, including for essential health care.

Queensland has recorded zero new locally acquired COVID-19 cases one day after three infections emerged in the southern border town of Goondiwindi.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says there were two new cases recorded in hotel quarantine after 11,850 tests in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Friday.

“We have zero new locally acquired cases, which is fantastic news, but of course we will be monitoring everything that’s happening in Goondiwindi,” she said.

There had been concerns about three females – in their teens, 20s and 30s – who were recorded as cases on Thursday, while authorities revealed a NSW woman and a Victorian truck driver had been in Goondiwindi while infectious on the weekend.

However, the state government said on Thursday a lockdown was unlikely because of the town’s high vaccination rate.

Following the discovery of 33 new COVID-19 cases in an outbreak in Moree linked to a recent funeral as well as three new cases confirmed in Queensland, the Mayor of Moree appealed to residents to act as though there were a lockdown.

“I am requesting that we all stay at home wherever possible, work from home if possible, shut our shops and get off the streets,” Mayor Katrina Humphries said.

“We need to take the pressure off our medical teams and to try to take the sting out of this awful situation we are in.”

Another 249 new local cases of COVID-19 and three deaths have been recorded in NSW overnight, while Victoria has recorded 1343 COVID-19 infections and 10 deaths.

Meanwhile, Victoria is keen to start vaccinating currently ineligible primary school-age children against COVID-19 before classes wrap up this year.

Premier Daniel Andrews flagged he will raise the issue of child vaccines at Friday’s national cabinet meeting, after US regulators approved the Pfizer jab for five to 11-year-olds.

“Hopefully our federal government’s doing the same, and they can make announcements quite soon about vaccinating our kids,” he told reporters on Thursday.

He said it would be preferable for children under 12 to have at least their first dose before summer holidays begin.

The premier also plans to ask about booster vaccines and isolation requirements, as state and territory leaders meet for the first time since October 1.

 

 

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