'Don't relax': NSW's biggest threat is not Victoria, it's bravado, Premier says
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'Don't relax': NSW's biggest threat is not Victoria, it's bravado, Premier says

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Melbourne's coronavirus hotspots will be put back into lockdown from Wednesday in a desperate effort to contain an outbreak of the deadly disease as Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned NSW's biggest threat was not Victoria but increasing complacency within its own borders.

The extraordinary steps taken in Victoria, which include a request to divert all international flights from Melbourne for the next fortnight, came on the same day Queensland announced it would reopen its borders to the rest of the country with the exception of Victoria, and the next phase of COVID-19 restrictions were eased in NSW.

From Wednesday the number of people allowed in indoor venues in NSW will no longer be restricted to 50 patrons so long as they comply with the social distancing rule of one person seated per four square metres and a maximum of 20 people per group. Children's and community sport competitions can resume and theatres and movie cinemas can reopen, while sports stadiums with a capacity of up to 40,000 are allowed to be 25 per cent full.

NSW recorded just five new cases – all returned travellers in hotel quarantine – on Tuesday but health authorities warned that the virus is spreading by stealth in the community.

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Victoria faces a more brazen coronavirus manifestation, recording 64 new cases in the latest 24-hour reporting period:13 cases are linked to known outbreaks; 20 have been identified through routine testing (at a testing clinic or GP); and 31 cases are under investigation, meaning the source of the transmission is not yet known.

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The localised lockdowns in Melbourne mean residents in virus hotspots will only be allowed to leave the house for medical care, to go to and from work and school, daily exercise and care giving.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced lockdowns across 10 hotspot suburbs would be enforced from midnight on Wednesday in a move that will be welcomed by the NSW government.

Authorities will patrol the main corridors in and out of the locked-down suburbs, conducting random"booze-bus type" checks of vehicles with those inside asked to identify themselves, Mr Andrews said.

Mr Andrews has told Prime Minister Scott Morrison that all international flights should be diverted from Melbourne for the next two weeks and a former judge will conduct an inquiry into infection-control breaches at quarantine hotels that triggered outbreaks in the city's north.

While Queensland will reopen its borders from July 10, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said anyone who had travelled from Victoria, including Queensland residents, would be prevented from entering the state unless they quarantined at a hotel at their own expense.

"We cannot risk removing our border restrictions for those people coming from areas in Victoria right now,” she said.

“The government will open the borders to other states from Friday, July 10, provided travellers complete a border declaration stating they have not been to local government areas in Victoria in the previous 14 days.”

Ms Berejiklian said the NSW government was not considering closing the state’s border with Victoria, and was more concerned about the complacency of NSW residents.

"I have noticed in and around my movements that people are starting to relax a little bit too much for my liking,” Ms Berejiklian said. "Don’t relax. Assume everybody in and around you has the disease.

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"Just because we haven't had the community transmission that's occurred elsewhere doesn't mean it can't happen … and the way that we stop it from happening is by maintaining the social distancing, the hand hygiene and sticking to the rules.''

Earlier on Tuesday NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard backed calls for the Victorian government to lock down the Melbourne suburbs that have become coronavirus hotspots.

"We’ve made it clear to Victoria that we’d be much happier if hotspot suburbs … were put into lockdown effectively,” Mr Hazzard said on 2GB radio on Tuesday morning.

The Premier and Health Minister have repeatedly warned Melburnians not to travel to NSW, and for NSW residents to stay away from hotspot areas and reconsider their travel to the Victorian capital.

From Wednesday, spectators wanting to enter Sydney stadiums will likely be required to show their driver’s licences to prove they are not Victorian after Ms Berejiklian made clear they were not welcome at NSW events until the virus had been contained.

"They might sound like tough things to ask people to do but that's what will keep us safe in NSW and we certainly want to continue on the path we're on ... we have done extremely well," Ms Berejiklian said.

But Ms Berejiklian said she was happy for AFL and NRL players from Victoria to play games in NSW due to the safety protocols adopted by their organisations.

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