Victoria will declare South Australia a hot spot but will not close its border with its neighbour after an outbreak of coronavirus cases.
As Victoria recorded its 17th straight day of no new COVID-19 infections, a cluster in South Australia jumped from three to 17 infections overnight following a testing blitz.
Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday morning Victoria would follow the Northern Territory and Tasmania in declaring South Australia a hot spot.
While Mr Andrews said there would be additional screening and potentially rapid testing when a traveller arrived in Victoria from South Australia, he said the borders would remain open.
“I’m looking to get these borders open,” the Premier said.
“It’ll be a case-by-case process, when a person arrives at the airport there will be a sit down with them, symptoms, have you been to any specific locations, rapid testing may be a feature of that.
“I want a situation where every border in the country is opened by Christmas time so that we can have that COVID-normal Christmas, not just in Victoria but for those who have done it very hard not being able to visit family and friends.”
Mr Andrews said it hadn’t yet been determined if there would be screening at the land border for people travelling into Victoria from South Australia by road.
Mr Andrews also extended an offer of support to his South Australian counterpart Steven Marshall to help deal with the outbreak of cases.
“Everyone can have confidence in our public health response in every state and territory and I’ll be confident South Australia can get on top of this.
“If there’s anything we can do, large or small, then of course we stand ready to do that.
“We’ll have a cautious approach and getting from South Australia to Melbourne might mean a bit more time at the airport.”
But when pressed by reporters, Mr Andrews wouldn’t rule out closing the state’s border to South Australia if the outbreak worsened.
“I’d never take anything completely off the table,” he said.
“My aim, which is a national cabinet aim, is to have all the internal borders in our country open by the end of this year.
“We’ve never closed our border. I’ve never criticised others for closing theirs, they’ve done what I would have done if the circumstances were different so I can’t take it off the table, but I’ve got confidence that Steven Marshall will get on top of this.”