Coronavirus updates LIVE: States and territories shut borders to NSW as local cases rise; Victoria scrambles to put a lid on outbreak

Summary

  • New Year’s Eve went off with a bang in Sydney, albeit a little shorter than usual as fireworks lit up the city skyline. Things were also quieter than usual in Melbourne.
  • Victoria has shut its border to NSW. As the new year dawned, there was a massive traffic jam on the Victoria-NSW border as thousands of cars waited to cross.
  • A fifth checkpoint will be added at the Queensland-NSW border this weekend to reduce the traffic delays heading north.
  • Victorians were told to limit New Year’s parties to 15 people, down from 30, while masks will be mandatory indoors again from 5pm on Thursday. Victoria reported eight new COVID-19.
  • NSW household gatherings are now limited to five guests in Greater Sydney, Wollongong, the Central Coast and Blue Mountains. Sydney COVID-19 cases have grown from zero to 170 in two weeks.

Berejiklian resists more lockdowns, mask mandate

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is resisting pressure to force Sydney into lockdown, mandate masks and ban crowds at the Sydney Cricket Ground as the number of COVID-19 cases grows from zero to 170 in two weeks.

The fallout of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve celebrations won’t be known for several days, with health authorities facing an anxious wait to determine whether the rules banning crowds from the harbour foreshore and limiting house gatherings were enough to prevent further outbreaks.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW was trying to strike the right balance with COVID advice. Credit:Wolter Peeters

NSW Health reported 10 locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on the last day of 2020 from 27,894 tests. Three cases are linked to the Croydon cluster. All were extended family members of the initial six cases.

Five cases are linked to the Avalon cluster and one to a medical transport worker who most likely caught the virus from one of the COVID-positive returned travellers they were moving. A tenth case is a man from western Sydney whose source of transmission is under investigation.

Health editor Kate Aubusson has the latest from NSW here.

Victoria to 'throw everything at this'

Victorian health authorities will use their most intensive contact tracing strategy and close the border with all of NSW tonight in a bid to suppress a growing COVID-19 outbreak and avoid a third wave and further lockdowns.

More than 70 people were in isolation on Thursday afternoon after the state announced five new locally acquired coronavirus cases, adding to the three announced on Wednesday. One child under 18 tested positive, as did a woman in her 70s, two men in their 70s and a man in his 40s.

According to contact tracing commander Jeroen Weimar, all of the Victorian cases are linked and authorities expect the outbreak to grow after close contacts were identified in Gippsland and the Surf Coast as well as in metropolitan Melbourne.

Read our full report from Melbourne here

COVID-testing at the pop-up site at Don Tatnell Leisure Centre in Parkdale.Credit:Penny Stephens

Welcome to 2021!

Hello and welcome to our first live coronavirus blog of 2021. We REALLY hope we won't be here doing this for very long this year.

We hope everyone out there had a nice New Year's Eve – wherever you celebrated it.

Here is a quick recap of the situation as we settle into January 1:

  • New Year's Eve went off with a bang in Sydney, albeit a little shorter than usual as fireworks lit up the city skyline. (We also have a Sydney photo gallery here from our photographer Dominic Lorrimer). Things were also quieter than usual in Melbourne
  • The (other) big news from yesterday was that Victoria shut its border to NSW. As the new year dawned, there was a massive traffic jam on the Victoria-NSW border as thousands of cars waited to cross. Our journalist, Lucy Battersby, was among those stuck in their cars. She reported that the A1 was blocked from Boydtown to the border (about 50km). We will have more from the border as the day progresses
  • Victorians were told to limit New Year's parties to 15 people, down from 30, while masks will be mandatory indoors again from 5pm on Thursday. Victoria reported eight new local COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, while NSW recorded 10 new local cases
  • A fifth checkpoint will be added at the Queensland-NSW border this weekend to reduce the traffic delays heading north. We have more from Queensland here
  • Household gatherings are now limited to five guests in Greater Sydney, Wollongong, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains. The Premier is so far resisting calls for further lockdowns and a mask mandate. Sydney COVID-19 cases have grown from zero to 170 in two weeks

We hope the news will improve as we head into 2021.

We'll be here keep you company throughout New Year's Day as we continue our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Best wishes for the new year.

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