NSW recorded another 30 confirmed cases of COVID-19 today, with 28 of those cases already linked to the Avalon group.
The ACT joined the chorus, and the Canberrans advised against traveling to the northern beaches, while Western Australia reestablished its hard border with New South Wales overnight.
Airlines have received panic calls from customers in Sydney desperate to change their travel plans and return to their home state.
More than 200,000 permits have been granted to travel to Victoria and more than 3,000 passengers arrived yesterday from Sydney at Melbourne Airport.
9News understands that airlines are monitoring flight demand, with the possibility of more flights being added tomorrow.
“I flew in last night and came back this morning, so we changed all of our Christmas plans,” Queensland traveler Danica Hammond told 9News.
He was on board one of nine flights scheduled to land in Queensland from Sydney tonight. Two of these scheduled flights were canceled in the last two hours.
“You have to get your border pass out twice and then check your temperature again,” traveler Chloe Hearne told 9News.
“I always came home, I only made it one day early, just in case.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for calm today as New South Wales addresses the group.
“They are all working together,” Morrison said in a video statement.
“We are working on the issue to fix it and make sure we can get back to as normal a COVID situation as we can as soon as possible.”
Victoria Police will monitor 13 vehicle checkpoints and the state government has also asked the ADF for help.
“There will be queues,” ADF test commander Jeroen Weimar told 9News.
“As we install checkpoints from midnight tonight, people should expect significant delays.”
Four border checkpoints in South Australia will be re-established tonight to ensure that border rules are not violated.
For some, the delays are the least of their worries with border changes that leave them no choice but to spend this Christmas without family.
Georgia Gilligan was scheduled to fly from South Australia to Sydney on Tuesday to spend Christmas with her family, the first time she would see them in seven months.
“I started crying and then I called my mom,” Ms. Gilligan told 9News after hearing the news of the border closure.
“I’m really upset, really upset. I really wanted to go home, it’s been a really difficult year.”
Today in Western Australia, masked passengers arrived at Perth airport in single file with much security and baggage spaced.
“It’s a bit difficult because obviously after not seeing your mom all year you want to give her a hug,” traveler Ella McClure told 9News.
The GTG pass approved for the 17-year-old was revoked just hours before the strict state border went into effect at midnight.
A last-minute approval from the police meant he could travel to Washington.
“It’s going to be a socially distant Christmas, but we are fortunate enough to be together,” Ella’s mother Sarah told 9News.
The hard border has decimated the number of arrivals to the state. Last week 550 passengers arrived from Sydney on three flights.
Today, only 230 passengers from Sydney spread over five flights.
“It happened while I was in the air and I turned on my phone and my friends said ‘I hope you can get back in time’. So, it made me feel bad,” said a traveler in Perth. .
“I almost burst into tears, I turned around and went home. But my whole family is there, I haven’t seen them in 12 months,” another passenger told 9News.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the alleged foreign traveler who arrived in Australia on December 1 carried a similar strain of the virus that genomic sequencing also showed in Avalon COVID-19 cases.
But no connection had yet been made between that traveler and the Avalon cases, he said.
“The only missing link here at the moment is who was the original source of that virus abroad,” he said.
“We know that genomic sequencing has indicated that that person had a genomic sequence very close to the cases that were happening in Avalon. But we don’t know how we got there, that’s the problem.”