Gladys considering drastic measures to stop COVID spread
NSW authorities are in coronavirus crisis mode, scrambling to work out how to stem the spread of Victoria's outbreak of COVID-19 across the border.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian is examining more severe measures such as limiting "high risk" gatherings again and enforcing self-funded hotel quarantine on travellers for Melbourne.
It is understood restrictions on gatherings such as weddings and funerals, which are considered particularly high-risk and were only relaxed on July 1, are being closely eyed.
"Everything is on the table," one government source said.
Ms Berejiklian is also weighing moving the state's border north and annexing Albury to Victoria with authorities worried about large number of interstate permits which have been issued undermining the current closure.
Confirmation of three cases in Canberra, with links to Melbourne, and a major health breach at Sydney airport where a planeload of Jetstar passengers from Melbourne disembarked without NSW Health screenings also heightened concerns.
As Victoria recorded another 134 new cases yesterday, Ms Berejiklian warned the risk of the outbreak spreading was "extremely high".
It comes as the federal Government is eyeing proposals to limit the number of people returning from overseas at any one time, after NSW took 39,394 returning travellers in the month to July 7 - more than the sum of every other state combined.
NSW is also considering shifting to a system where it forces hotel quarantine guests to foot their own bill.
Border residents in NSW are bearing the brunt of the measures imposed to stem the flow of COVID-19 from Melbourne hot spots, facing hours of traffic delays to get to and from work as more than 50,000 vehicles crossed between the states yesterday.
People living in towns like Albury along the Victorian border have been told not to travel elsewhere in NSW, with further restrictions formally limiting movement under consideration.
Ms Berejiklian was unapologetic for the tough words and warned residents it was likely harsher border measures were on the way as she was "extremely worried" about the level of community transmission in Victoria.
"It doesn't bother me how many people are personally upset with me (about) the decision we have to take to protect the community," she said.
"The probability we need to be tougher on border restrictions is extremely high.
"The risk of contagion is extremely high … do not let your guard down."
Ms Berejiklian said anyone who did not comply with restrictions would inflict "horrible consequences" on the rest of the community.
"I have no tolerance for people who are continuing to live their lives as normal," she said. "I have no tolerance for the people who aren't doing the right thing by the vast majority."
A 34-year-old Victorian man was yesterday arrested by NSW Police for allegedly trying to cross into the state with his wife and three children without a valid reason.
NSW Health officials are monitoring transmission rates "every few hours" and border communities could be locked down at very short notice.
The new border line could either effectively redraw Albury as a part of Victoria, or put the town in its own "bubble." Extra police checkpoints would be set up north of Albury.
Albury Northside Chamber of Commerce general manager Carrick Gill-Valance said business owners were still in shock grappling with the border closure, let alone being cut off to the north as well.
Mr Gill-Valance said he was worried about the ongoing impact on Albury if it labelled "a quasi-satellite area of Victoria".
More than 200 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 have been interviewed by NSW Health staff over the past five days, with more than 800 close contacts of those cases expected to be notified in the coming days.
As the state Government considers forcing returning NSW residents to pay for their own hotel quarantine, hundreds of people yesterday dashed back across the border.
Surry Hills resident Amanda Mason arrived home yesterday with children Mitchell and Frankie Chandler after attending her father's funeral in the Yarra Valley.
Ms Mason said people should be made to pay to quarantine in hotels if they were travelling for leisure, but not if they were required to leave for serious reasons.
Originally published as Gladys considering drastic measures to stop COVID spread