A hard border to South Australians attempting to travel into Victoria will be implemented for 48 hours from midnight tonight, before a permit system comes into effect on Sunday.
The Victorian Government hopes the temporary measure will protect the population after the state went 20 days with zero new cases of COVID-19 today.
South Australia is currently in total lockdown for six days, with only essential businesses allowed to operate, as health authorities scramble to contain a northern suburbs outbreak of COVID-19.
"Victorians have worked too hard and given too much to allow anything to put at risk our goal of reaching COVID Normal by Christmas. We'll do whatever it takes to keep Victorians safe," Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.
"We know border communities have had an incredibly difficult year and we don't take these decisions lightly.
"Our public health team will work closely with South Australia to monitor the outbreak and get the border back open as soon as it's safe to do so."
The new rules come as South Australia has reported zero new cases of COVID-19 overnight.
Under the hard border rules only freight drivers and those with medical or emergency reasons, urgent animal welfare or those authorised by law will be able to pass through the border.
The border permit system is currently being devised, but the reasons to enter Victoria from South Australia from midnight Sunday will include:
- if you are an emergency services worker or a worker providing essential services
- for agricultural work
- to receive medical care (including seeking coronavirus testing), obtain medical supplies or compassionate reasons
- to shop to obtain essential supplies.
From today, interstate truck drivers travelling through Victoria from South Australia will be offered extra testing at a site at Nhill on the Western Highway.
Other testing sites are being activated at other major freight routes. Drivers can also be tested at more than 193 other sites across Victoria.
"We're working with major freight companies, independent operators and industry peak bodies to provide advice about the need for testing and all tested will have their samples fast-tracked for analysis," says the Victorian Government.
"The Victorian Government will continue to monitor the SA outbreak and take whatever action is necessary to keep Victorians safe.
"Our Victorian Public Health team is also supporting SA contact tracers as they continue to track and trace the spread of the virus."
The restrictions come as Victorian health officials have discovered fragments of the virus that causes COVID-19 in untreated wastewater taken from Portland and Benalla treatment plants on Tuesday 17 November.
As such, residents of Portland and Benalla have been urged to get tested for COVID-19 and isolate until a result is processed.
"We'll work with these communities to ensure they have access to the things they need, as we provide further details on border crossings in the coming days," Victorian Minster for Health Martin Foley said.
Updated at 1.16pm AEDT on 19 November 2020.