NSW has eased a number of coronavirus restrictions while keeping an eye on outbreaks in Victoria, with penalties imposed on Melbourne hot spot residents who seek to cross the Murray.
Limits on attendance have been relaxed in NSW from Wednesday for funerals, weddings, places of worship and community sport, as long as there is no more than one person per four square metres of space.
Outdoor gatherings are still restricted to 20 people but community sport with a COVID-19 safety plan can have up to 500 participants.
Funerals, weddings and church services may have the maximum number of people possible on the premises while observing the one person per four square metres rule.
All businesses can now open and operate under the same principle.
Up to 20 people can visit another household at any one time and guests are permitted to stay overnight. Up to 20 people can also stay at a holiday home, with no restrictions on travelling within NSW.
But Premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged NSW residents not to open their doors to Victorians despite stopping short of closing the border.
From Thursday, Victoria will place residents of 36 Melbourne suburbs back into lockdown for a month in a bid to contain an unacceptably high number of new coronavirus cases detected in the past fortnight.
Victoria on Wednesday reported 73 new virus cases, compared with 14 – all of them returned travellers in hotel quarantine – in NSW.
One patient in NSW is currently in intensive care.
Melbourne residents of COVID-19 outbreak areas who seek to enter NSW could from Thursday face six months’ imprisonment or a fine of $ 11,000.
NSW residents who return from Melbourne hot spot areas, meanwhile, will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
“This virus is quite capable of circulating, particularly in younger people,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said on Wednesday.
“Normally we love having Victorians and Queenslanders and everybody else coming to visit us but Victorians right now, from those hot spots, are not welcome in NSW. We’re sorry.
“It’s not something we want to do but we must do for our own safety.”
People trying to enter NSW stadiums from Wednesday may be required to show their driver’s licence to prove they’re not from Victoria.
The premier this week also warned against complacency on social distancing and hygiene measures, suggesting NSW residents were becoming lax.
She added on Wednesday that NSW was not keen to take additional international flights redirected from virus-hit Melbourne, saying they should instead go to other capital cities such as Adelaide or Perth.
“NSW has borne the overwhelming burden of returning Aussies on behalf of the nation, Victoria has as well to some extent,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“It’s fair given those diversions that other states take on those flights (to) Melbourne. Even today, I got an update saying over the past week, there’s been a 50 per cent increase in the number of overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.
“It’s reasonable to say to other states who’ve been able to live in their bubbles because we’ve borne the burden of these overseas travellers, ‘please share in that burden, we’ve already done 30-odd thousand’.”
Meanwhile, Anglicare could face a class action after 19 residents died at its coronavirus-hit Newmarch House nursing home in Sydney.
Family members have approached lawyers who allege Anglicare was negligent in its handling of the health crisis and breached its duty of care to residents.
Australian Associated Press