Victoria shuts border off to South Australia
Victoria will instate a hard border with South Australia from midnight on Thursday.
The closure will last for 48 hours before a permit system will come into effect from on midnight Saturday night.
Under the hard border only freight drivers and those with medical or other emergency needs will be able to pass across the border from South Australia into Victoria.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the new measures were taken as an "abundance of caution" due to ongoing community transmission in South Australia.
The closure marks the first time Victoria has closed its border to another state since the pandemic began.
South Australia entered a strict six-day lockdown on Thursday in a bid to contain a growing coronavirus cluster in Adelaide's north.
NEW MILESTONE IN VICTORIA'S VIRUS FIGHT
Victoria recorded 20 straight days of zero new coronavirus cases and no deaths.
Department of Health data released on Thursday morning showed the number of active cases remains at three, while there are no infections from an unknown source.
A total of 17,161 COVID-19 tests results were received in the past 24 hours, slightly down from 17,354 on Wednesday.
The last positive cases of coronavirus in Victoria were on October 30 after four infections were recorded.
Victoria hasn't recorded 20 or more consecutive days of zero new COVID-19 cases since between February 1 and 21.
Meanwhile, a six-day lockdown will close much of South Australia as authorities on Wednesday night scrambled to contain a growing coronavirus cluster.
South Australians were urged to cancel non-essential trips to Victoria before the hard border comes into effect on Thursday night.
Passengers arriving by plane from Adelaide will be tested for the virus and are required to quarantine while awaiting their results.
Truck drivers travelling through Victoria have been asked to volunteer for tests at the border and will be allowed to continue on their journeys while their results are fast-tracked.
Health Minister Martin Foley on Wednesday said "absolutely nothing" prevented drivers entering the state by road without a test.
"Not at the moment, because the risk criteria says that that's not necessary," Mr Foley told 3AW.
Deputy CHO Allen Cheng said the Department of Health and Human Services was issuing alerts to aged-care homes and hospitals and testing wastewater in western Victoria for coronavirus traces.
Premier Daniel Andrews said it was "almost certain" there would be more cases in the state.
"Unless you've got an urgent reason, a really pressing reason to come to Victoria, now is not the time to come to Victoria," Mr Andrews said.
"The risk at the moment … would not justify us closing the border right now.
"If we see people travelling as if there hadn't been an outbreak … well, then we will take the appropriate action."
SA has more than 4000 people in isolation. Premier Steven Marshall said the state was going hard and early.
"Time is of the essence," he said. "We must act swiftly and decisively on the health advice to stay ahead of the game.
"That health advice is we need a circuit breaker."
ILLEGAL BLACKROCK BEACH PARTY ORGANISERS FINED
The organisers of two "illegal" Melbourne beach parties have been fined after large crowds gathered in breach of coronavirus restrictions.
Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville told reporters the organisers of two gatherings where guests failed to leave once police arrived had been "fined and charged".
She said police were aware of parties at four Melbourne beaches last weekend. Large crowds gathered to drink and socialise as the temperature spiked above 30C.
Outdoor gatherings in a public places are limited to 10 people under the current chief health officer directions.
At least 100 partygoers were filmed on a secluded beach in Melbourne's southeast on Sunday, while police are also investigating a DJ event in St Kilda.
Most revellers weren't wearing masks as they drank and danced at Half Moon Bay in Black Rock before police arrived and asked them to move on.
Ms Neville said police refrained from fining every partygoer as they took on more of a "reassurance role" as coronavirus cases remain at low levels in Victoria.
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MASK RELIEF SOON AS LITTERBUGS LASHED
Face mask rules are set to be relaxed on Sunday, as hundreds are being discarded on suburban streets and washing up on bay beaches.
Premier Daniel Andrews flagged the news on Wednesday, revealing: "I think on Sunday you'll see some changes to mask policy. That'll be principally where you're outside and you're away from others."
But Mr Andrews said masks would likely remain compulsory for some time in certain situations.
"Again, like the borders, they won't be here forever and won't be a feature of our public health response for all of next year," he said. "But for so long as they're serving a purpose, then they'll be part of our rules."
Volunteers taking part in a statewide litter collection effort have found more than 500 surgical masks in the past three months alone. Local councils are also reporting a surge in masks mindlessly abandoned.
Beach Patrol president Ross Headifen, who with wife Ramona has personally collected 130 masks in the Port Melbourne area since mid-September, said the environmental group's volunteers reported dumped face masks was a growing issue.
They were typically discarded on the roadside or median strips, with many washing into stormwater and finding their way into the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay.
"We pick up masks every time we go out,'' Mr Headifen said. "I would say it's mostly people dropping them, them blowing out of the car or dropping them on the ground.
"It's just very disappointing.
University of Melbourne Associate Professor Suzie Reichman said surgical masks were made of different types of plastic which caused further environmental harm as it broke into smaller pieces.
Marine life such as shellfish absorbed microplastics.
"Throwing away a surgical mask is just like throwing away a plastic bag,'' Professor Reichman said.
Litterbugs can face a $330 fine.
BUSINESS TAX BREAKS ARE COMING
Victorian businesses can expect "significant" tax breaks in next week's state budget.
Daniel Andrews confirmed the budget, to be handed down on November 24, would include major tax policies.
It came after NSW on Tuesday moved to scrap stamp duty and land tax in favour of an annual property tax.
Asked whether he would follow suit, the Victorian Premier said on Wednesday tax breaks would be unveiled in the budget.
"They have made some announcements, I've got no announcements to make about tax policy today," he said.
"There will be significant tax breaks, if you like, there will be significant support via the tax system for business. But I will leave the treasurer to make those announcements."
As previously recommended by the Productivity Commission, the Herald Sun revealed in April the Victorian government was considering replacing stamp duty with a cheaper annual tax paid by homeowners.
The new tax would be calculated on the value and size of the owner's land.
HOPE FOR VICTORIANS STRANDED OVERSEAS
Premier Daniel Andrews has given a glimmer of hope for Victorians stranded overseas, hinting that work was underway to have as many people as possible back in the state in time for Christmas.
When on asked on Wednesday if Australians hoping to make it home for the holidays could be prioritised, Mr Andrews said: "they will be".
"They will be prioritised because we will have announcements to make fairly soon about a reset quarantine program and once that's done we will be able to receive flights again.
"There will be caps, there's not going to be literally thousands of people arriving every day, it has to be managed very carefully.
Mr Andrews said he had spent much of Tuesday in meetings discussing the issue of returned overseas travellers.
"My priority is to get permanent residents and Australian citizens from Victoria get back to be with their family for Christmas," he said.
"I don't think that is incompatible with having major events."
Earlier in November, the hotel quarantine inquiry handed down its interim report and detailed a range of improvements to get the troubled system safely up and running.
The Andrews Government is yet to announce when or how it would reintroduce the program, with returned travellers instead diverted to other cities for arrival and isolation.
Originally published as Victoria shuts border off to South Australia