Severity: Warning Alert

Transportation: Officials in New South Wales, Australia, easing restrictions along the Victoria border as of Sept. 4. Statewide COVID-19 controls ongoing.

Alert Begins 04 Sep 2020 09:35 AM UTC
Alert Expires 02 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): New South Wales (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Border closure with Victoria, transport disruptions, increased security, limited business restrictions, quarantine requirements

Summary
New South Wales (NSW) continues to implement restrictions due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of Sept. 4. NSW is primarily following the federal government's Step 3 guidelines. The government encourages residents to wear masks in indoor public areas where social distancing is impractical, especially public transport; however, officials have yet to mandate mask usage. Authorities suggest people who have visited establishments with reported COVID-19 cases to self-isolate for 14 days and get tested, even if asymptomatic. Officials continue to require employees to work from home, if feasible.

Groups are limited to 20 people for home visits or at outdoor public spaces and fitness classes. Nonessential businesses must follow the so-called four-square meter rule, limiting capacity at indoor spaces to one person per four square meters (43 square feet). Corporate events and weddings are possible with a maximum of 150 people, while up to 100 people can attend religious services and funerals. The rule does not apply to transport hubs, hospitals, courts, supermarkets, schools, hotel accommodations, and commercial operations, including office buildings, factories, warehouses, and mining and construction sites, among others.

The government maintains additional restrictions for hospitality businesses. Bars, pubs, cafes, and restaurants can operate following capacity limits, with up to 300 people per distinct area. Officials have capped groups at 10 people for service, and only seated patrons can consume alcohol. These businesses, as well as gyms, must allocate one staff member to oversee COVID-19 safety; indoor gyms and venues with a capacity higher than 250 people must have a designated staff member on duty whenever open. Community sporting events can take place, but participation cannot exceed 500 people. Organizers must submit a COVID-19 safety plan to authorities for competitions larger than 20 people. Outdoor venues seating up to 40,000 people can accommodate patrons at 25-percent capacity. Nightclubs and music festivals remain banned.

Domestic Border Controls
NSW has eased restrictions along the border with Victoria from Sept. 4. Officials have established a border region with a separate permit. The measure will allow people within a 50-km (31-mile) border zone to travel across state lines for essential goods and services, compassionate grounds, attend work or school, or permanently relocate to NSW. Residents must stay within the border region or face quarantine. Travelers transiting Victoria on direct routes to New South Wales are also exempt from quarantine requirements. NSW residents returning from Victoria can enter the state. Residents must apply for an entry permit and self-isolate upon return or provide official documentation of a completed a 14-day quarantine in Victoria. Hundreds of security personnel are physically present at the border and monitoring the area with surveillance equipment. Travelers violating the orders could receive fines of up to AUD 11,000 (USD 7,660) and face up to six months in jail.

International Quarantine Requirements
All travelers entering Australia must quarantine in government-designated facilities for 14 days in the city of arrival. New South Wales charges all arriving travelers for quarantine, including Australian citizens and permanent residents, payable at the end of the quarantine period. Quarantine fees are AUD 3,000 (USD 2,130) for the first adult, AUD 1,000 (USD 710) per additional adult, and AUD 355 per child; the government does not charge fees for children under three years old. Travelers who purchased tickets with a confirmed arrival date before 2359 July 12 are exempt from payment. Authorities require quarantined travelers to take a COVID-19 test on the 10th day of quarantine. Refusal to take tests will result in an additional 10 days in quarantine.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by government health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Plan for transport disruptions and delivery delays between Victoria and New South Wales. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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