Australians braved 90-minute traffic jams to go to work this morning on the first day the New South Wales-Victoria border closed due to a massive coronavirus outbreak in Melbourne.
A line of cars swung hundreds of feet along the Lincoln Causeway between Wodonga in Victoria and Albury in New South Wales, as dozens of police officers braved heavy fog and 3 ° C temperatures to man the crossing at night and this morning.
The two cities are only 7 km apart and hundreds of residents live in one and work in the other, meaning the closure of the border that came into effect at midnight has turned their lives upside down.
Long wait: Australians braved 40-minute traffic jams to get to work this morning on the first day closing the New South Wales-Victoria border due to a massive coronavirus outbreak in Melbourne
A line of cars wound for hundreds of yards along the Lincoln Causeway between Wodonga in Victoria and Albury in New South Wales. Pictured: Commuters on the right are waiting to go to Albury in NSW for work
The police stop and question drivers at a checkpoint in Albury. Drivers had to show their ID and a permit to cross the border
Employees must apply for a permit from Service New South Wales to cross the border, but the website was so overwhelmed that it crashed for about an hour this morning.
Each driver had to show his license to the police before being admitted, causing a delay of up to 90 minutes and putting many people late for work.
Albury Mayor Kevin May Mack described the situation as “disgraceful” and said residents could not tolerate the checks.
“This is a shame. This is not Sydney, this is Albury-Wodonga and people are just not being treated like they should be treated here, ‘he told Sydney radio 2 GB.
“We’re not going to put up with this for a week, this is just awful.”
Employees must apply for a permit from Service New South Wales to cross the border, but the website was so overwhelmed that it crashed for about an hour this morning. Pictured: Border queues to enter Albury
Each driver had to show his license to the police before being admitted, causing a delay of up to 90 minutes and bringing many people to work late
Albury Mayor Kevin May Mack described the situation as “disgraceful” and said residents could not tolerate the checks. Picture: the crossing to Albury on Wednesday morning
The two cities are only 7 km apart and hundreds of residents live in one and work in the other, meaning the closure of the border that took effect at midnight has turned their lives upside down
On duty: Police officers manning the border braved near-freezing temperatures at night and this morning to check vehicles coming to NSW
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller, who oversees the border operation, retaliated and insisted that measures were needed to keep the public safe.
“I find it ridiculous to come out on such a large border operation on the first day and file complaints.
“Maybe he should go downstairs to talk to the police who worked all night under frigid conditions to protect the health of the people of NSW.
“It’s not time to be selfish.”
On Tuesday, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced that all of Melbourne and Mitchell Shire north of the city would be re-imprisoned for six weeks from 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, after the state registered 191 new cases of coronavirus – the worst figure yet.
Residents may only leave their homes to work and study, give or receive care, shop for groceries and exercise daily near their place of residence.
Police will prevent Victorians from leaving or entering Melbourne with roadblocks and drunk bus-style car checks, effectively shutting down 5 million people in the city.
Meetings of more than two people who do not live together are prohibited; beauty services and entertainment are closed; and cafes, restaurants and pubs can only offer takeaway.
Pupils of the 11th and 12th grades and special schools go back to the classroom, but the holiday is extended by one week for pupils up to the year 10, with remote learning thereafter.
Restrictions for the rest of Victoria remain the same – but residents can only enter Melbourne for health care, essential groceries, and work or study.
Repressed Prime Minister Andrews said the new shutdown was essential to prevent “thousands and thousands” of cases and “many people in the hospital.”
“This is a pandemic and it will kill thousands of people if it comes completely from us,” he said.
All of Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire north of the city will be locked up again on Wednesday for six weeks from 11:59 PM after Victoria registered 191 new cases of coronavirus – the worst figure yet. Picture: a map with the suburbs closed
New Lockdown: Victoria has registered 191 new cases of coronavirus – the worst figure yet. In the photo: police and nurses wearing protective equipment outside the tower blocks in north Melbourne
Mr Andrews said that case numbers “get worse before they get better.” He has told Prime Minister Scott Morrison about the new shutdown and has requested hundreds of ADF troops to assist in enforcement.
The prime minister also said he spoke to Mr. Morrison about the possibility of renewing JobKeeper and the increased JobSeeker payment, which expires in September, for Victorians incarcerated until August 19.
“I am confident that the Prime Minister knows and understands that there will be different forms of hardship in different parts of the country, different industries, different sectors,” he said.
After Mr. Andrews announced the new block, Victorian opposition leader Michael O’Brien insulted him for “not accepting responsibility for his own mistakes.”
Tens of instances of the Melbourne outbreak can be traced to breaches of the hotel’s quarantine system after private security guards used by the government, rather than the police, contacted patients and brought the virus to their families.
It was the first time today that the border between NSW and Victoria has been closed since Spanish flu hit in 1919.
Service preparation: Police officers gather outside Sydney’s domestic terminal before being transported to different parts of the NSW border, where they prevent Victorians from entering the state