Commuter chaos as NSW border closes and Melbourne enters lockdown

Commuter chaos as NSW border closes and Melbourne enters lockdown

There has been chaos as the NSW-Victoria border closure came into effect at 11.59pm last night.

People applying online for permits to cross from Victoria into NSW faced massive delays after reports the web page stopped working — just hours before the border closed.

The system appeared to be back up and running again before midnight, when the Victoria-NSW border officially shut.

A Service NSW spokesperson said the permit application system was experiencing high levels of demand.

“We are aware that some people have experienced delays in securing a permit and we apologise for the delay,” the spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday night.

“In the interim, travellers will be able to demonstrate their eligibility to cross the border to police by carrying relevant documentation based on a category of exemption.”

Victoria and NSW agreed to shut the borders between the two states at midnight on Tuesday as the number of coronavirus cases grows in the south.

Permits are being issued for people who need to travel interstate for work or health care.

The countdown has also begun for people in Melbourne, as the city and its surrounding regional communities head back into stay-at-home lockdown for six weeks.

Residents in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire, north of the city, will be put into stage three lockdown from 11.59pm on Wednesday.

Victoria notched another 191 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, making it the state’s highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.

Under the rules, people can only leave their homes to get food and supplies, receive or provide care, exercise, and study or work if they can’t do so from home.

“We know we’re on the cusp of something very, very bad if we don’t take these steps today,” Mr Andrews said on Tuesday.

Except for Mitchell Shire, which takes in towns including Broadford, Kilmore, Pyalong, Seymour, Tallarook and Wallan, regional Victoria is excluded from the lockdown.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he wanted the state to avoid “absolutely catastrophic outcomes”.

On Tuesday, there were 772 active cases, up from 60 a month ago, with more than half potentially from community transmission.

The federal government announced it will waive parent gap fees from Monday if children are not attending child care for COVID-related reasons in the new lockdown areas of Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.

The gap fee is the difference between the Child Care Subsidy the government pays to a service and the remaining fee owed by the family.

Childcare services can also access the $708 million Transition Payment to support the return to the subsidy from Monday.

The federal government will also ease the activity test until October 4.

Meanwhile, the state government is copping flak for its handling of COVID-19, especially the bungled hotel quarantine program that helped fuel this second wave.

Businesses and centres that had recently reopened will have to close their doors while eateries have to go back to takeaway and delivery only.

Much like earlier restrictions, visitors will no longer be welcome at homes and people cannot gather outside in groups of more than two.

Schools in affected areas will not open their doors for term three, which was to start on Monday. Rather, holidays will be extended by a week to give teachers and parents time to prepare for remote learning.

But Year 11 and 12 students and special schools will resume face-to-face learning.

Residents in nine public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne are still in strict lockdown, unable to leave their homes until everyone is tested.

The Victorian County Court and Supreme Court have confirmed they are reviewing the July 20 time frame for the resumption of criminal jury trials.

“In light of the most recent developments, the courts are reviewing time frames for recommencement,” a courts spokesman told AAP.

Twenty-two people have died from the coronavirus in Victoria.

There are 1194 active cases in Australia.