By Vatican News
The premiers of Australia’s two most-populous states have announced that the internal border between New South Wales and Victoria will be closed beginning on Wednesday, as a precautionary measure to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, announced the decision on Monday, saying, “It is the smart call, the right call at this time, given the significant challenges we face in containing the virus.”
Outbreak in Melbourne
The decision to close the border follows a new outbreak in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital city and the second-largest city in Australia. Victoria recorded the highest-ever daily increase in Covid-19 cases, with 127 new cases and two deaths confirmed. Officials expressed concern that many of the new cases in Melbourne are the result of community transmission. Previously, most cases were contracted overseas or from travelers returning from foreign countries.
Police have been enforcing strict social distancing orders in 30 suburbs around Melbourne, and nine public housing towers are in complete lockdown.
Agreement to close the border
Victoria’s border with the neighbouring state of South Australia has been closed since 22 March, but officials have been hesitant to close the border between Victoria and New South Wales, and the federal government has discouraged internal border closings. The decision to close the border was taken after consultation between the premiers of the two states and Australia's prime minister.
The last time the border was closed was more than one hundred years ago, during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1919.
The closing is likely to affect Australia’s economy, which is entering a recession for the first time in almost thirty years. New South Wales premier Gladys Berijiklian says there is no timetable yet for re-opening the border.