NSW towns dumped from Vic border bubble
The mayor of one of four NSW councils dumped from the Victorian border bubble says the decision defies logic, given the region has not had a case of COVID-19 for more than 12 months.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the Wagga Wagga, Hay Shire, Lockhart Shire and Murrumbidgee councils will no longer be included in the cross-border bubble from 11:59pm on Tuesday.
Residents of the councils will need to apply for a permit or exemption to enter Victoria.
"We're only granting permits for those who are approved workers and even only then when it is absolutely necessary," Mr Andrews told reporters on Tuesday.
"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 I have no choice."
Twelve NSW local government areas will remain a part of the bubble, allowing residents to travel freely between towns while the rest of the state is declared an "extreme risk" zone.
Wagga Wagga mayor Greg Conkey said he only learnt of the changes through the media.
"I just cannot understand the logic of why the city of Wagga Wagga would be excluded," he told AAP.
"We have had no COVID-19 cases in the city. You'd understand it if there were cases and we were in lockdown, but we're not.
"We have a lot of associations with Victoria and it's going to make it even harder to do business."
Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh said the premier must release the health advice that led to the decision.
"These communities have not had a single COVID case in over 12 months," he told AAP.
"This decision comes at a time when businesses and communities need to be recovering from another lockdown."
NSW recorded 172 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, while Victoria recorded 10 infections and announced an end to its statewide lockdown.
Mr Andrews again called for NSW to impose a "ring of steel" - a hard border managed by police and the defence force - around Sydney.
"A ring of steel will work. It will, and that's why I called for it," he said.
"I would respectfully say to the NSW government, you're not just making decisions for NSW. You're making decisions for the whole country."
The move has previously been rejected by the NSW government.
Mr Andrews said he was hopeful Victoria's public health team would be able to offer greater support to NSW in the coming days.
Victoria is not the only jurisdiction to tighten its border with NSW on Tuesday, with the Northern Territory bringing regional NSW in line with Greater Sydney and declaring the entire state a hotspot.
Anyone who arrives in the territory from NSW from 5pm must undertake 14 days of quarantine at the Alice Springs or Howard Springs quarantine facilities.
Chief Health Officer Hugh Heggie said the Delta COVID-19 variant was spreading into regional NSW through the "movement of essential workers or breaches of quarantine and lockdown restrictions".
"We are being pre-emptive in declaring regional NSW a hotspot as we do not know where any future cases of COVID-19 may occur in these areas," he said in a statement.
SA and Victoria were also removed as hotspots, meaning people from both states will no longer need to quarantine.
Tasmania, meanwhile, reopens to SA from Wednesday, excluding those who have visited high-risk locations.
The state government will reassess its closed border with Victoria on Thursday.
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