NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged accommodation providers in her state to turn travellers from Melbourne away – but Victorians are still continuing their plans to travel across the state.
Berejiklian’s announcement came on Tuesday after Victoria had recorded 17 new coronavirus cases overnight, a significant number of which Premier Dan Andrews said were due to community transmission – with a further 20 new cases recorded today.
“I call on all organisations not to interact with citizens from Melbourne at this stage,” Berejiklian told the press.
Furthermore, the NSW Premier backed accommodation owners and operators to bar Melbournians, emphasising that vendors are “at liberty to accept or reject any traveller”, as reported by ABC News.
“I would definitely encourage organisations to consider who to allow on their premises and where they’re coming from,” she said.
Berejiklian’s announcement came just a day after the NSW government officially opened the state’s ski season, amid easing coronavirus restrictions, with the likes of in-demand Thredbo and Perisher welcoming local travellers.
Both popular ski resorts are within two hours’ drive from the Victorian border, and authorities anticipate the upcoming school holidays – which begin this weekend – will see an increase in arrivals.
Berejiklian added that Australian workers should “absolutely” not be travelling to and from Melbourne for business at the current time, as reported by the national broadcaster.
“I think it’s the prerogative of every business, every organisation not to accept anyone from these hotspots at this time.”
According to Premier Andrews, stay-at-home orders are under “active consideration” within the state’s COVID-19 affected areas of Hume, Casey, Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin in Melbourne.
Travellers continuing plans to travel in NSW, despite advice
Despite Berejiklian’s advice for Victorians to stay out of her state, and calls for accommodation providers and tourism operators to bar Melbournians, travellers are still arriving in the state.
Rob Langton told ABC News he came to Sydney for the day for real-estate work. Before the pandemic, he would reportedly travel to Sydney or Brisbane at least once a week.
After three months without travelling, his business resumed trips to Sydney last week.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen with the border potentially closing this week or next week,” Langton said.
“We wanted to get here before anything changed between Victoria and New South Wales.”
Yu Zhao Zhang, a Melbourne resident, arrived in Sydney on Tuesday dressed in head-to-toe protective gear. He said he knew risks were increasing but didn’t want to cancel.
“I saw the ‘reconsider travel’ warning, but I had already booked my ticket,” he told ABC News, adding that if his hotel decided to turn him away, he could stay at a friend’s house.
The Sydney–Melbourne air-route is one of the world’s busiest, with more than nine million people typically travelling between the two cities each year.
With the impacts of coronavirus, as few as 17,100 passengers travelled the route in April – a drop of 97.7 per cent compared to April 2019 – according to The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communication.
Moreover, Sydney Airport figures from May showed domestic travel nationally was down 97.2 per cent on May 2019, a drop from 2.217 million passengers to just 62,000.
However, the increase in Victorian coronavirus cases comes as Australian carriers begin increasing capacity across the nation, with Qantas and Jetstar committing to increase flights from five per cent of pre-coronavirus levels to 15 per cent by the end of June.
Virgin Australia has also been given the tick of approval to grow its number of domestic flights.
Featured image: iStock/stellalevi