The border between Australia’s Victoria and New South Wales states will be closed from Tuesday for the first time in 100 years amid a surge in coronavirus cases, Reuters reported on Monday. Movement between the two states was last banned during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1919.
The authorities are struggling to contain the spread of coronavirus in Melbourne city, which is located in the state of Victoria.
“It [the decision to close the border] is the smart call, the right call at this time, given the significant challenges we face in containing this virus,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said. He added that people who need travel for urgent reasons can apply for permits. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, on the other hand, said that there is was no time frame for reopening the border.
Flights between Victoria and New South Wales will also be cancelled, according to BBC. The air route between state capitals Melbourne and Sydney is among the busiest in the world.
Melbourne has seen a sharp increase in coronavirus cases over the last week, forcing the government to impose strict physical distancing orders in 30 suburbs. Nine housing complexes have been put under complete lockdown. Victoria recorded its biggest one-day increase of 127 coronavirus cases on Monday. It also reported two deaths, the first in the country in over two weeks.
Last month, the Australian government had called in the army to help Victoria tackle the escalating coronavirus crisis.
Australia has reported 8,586 coronavirus cases and 106 deaths so far, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s tracker.