National

Travel warning for NSW border residents

By AAP Newswire

The NSW government will consider establishing a border north of Albury as the premier tries to protect the state from the escalating COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Wednesday warned the widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in the southern state is a huge risk for NSW and urged residents in Albury and other border towns not to travel to other parts of the state.

"The probability of contagion in NSW given what's happened in Victoria is extremely high," Ms Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

"I am extremely concerned about what is happening in Victoria, the extent of community contagion is unlike anything we have seen in Australia."

She said her government will consider either establishing a border north of Albury or making exemption permits more difficult to obtain.

More than 50,000 exemption permits were issued overnight for people living in NSW-Victoria border communities, allowing them to cross between the two.

"We are monitoring this situation every few hours ... we are in a high-risk situation," Ms Berejiklian said.

The Berejiklian government is also looking into making hotel quarantine mandatory for NSW residents returning from the southern state.

Currently, NSW residents returning from Victoria must self-isolate at home for 14 days but Ms Berejiklian said forced hotel quarantine - which residents will have to pay for - has not been ruled out.

Ms Berejiklian also flagged some COVID-19 health orders relating to gatherings will be tweaked in the coming days.

NSW on Wednesday recorded eight new COVID-19 cases including seven in hotel quarantine and a woman in her 30s from southwest Sydney. The woman's case remains under investigation.

NSW Health chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant also noted a Victorian teenager holidaying in Merimbula on the southern NSW coast has tested positive for coronavirus.

Dr Chant said the teenager and his family were not from a Melbourne COVID-19 hot spot and were tested for the virus before they left the state.

They were advised the result was negative but after arriving in NSW were told there was an error and the result was actually positive, she said.

The family is isolating in Merimbula.

Queues on the NSW-Victoria border grew to four kilometres overnight as the closure - in response to an escalation in new coronavirus cases in the southern state - came into force.

There are exemptions in place for essential crossings, including medical care.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told reporters some people travelling from hotspot postcodes in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire were turned back overnight.

Communities in those areas are preparing for a six-week lockdown from Thursday.

The NSW Transport Workers' Union has called for greater clarity regarding exemption permits after claims some freight workers are receiving permits stating they need to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival to NSW.

"We have seen confusion, anxiety, and angst amongst our membership as they scramble to keep up with the ambiguous, ongoing changes to border crossing rules," TWU NSW secretary Richard Olsen said in a statement.

The Australian Industry Group has called on the NSW government to reopen the border with Victoria given the impending lockdown in Melbourne.

"The shutdown of Melbourne overnight leaves the way clear for the immediate reopening of the border between NSW and Victoria," chief executive Innes Willox said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Berejiklian government has warned businesses they risk fines of up to $55,000 if they don't follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.