NSW-Victoria border closure: Everything you need to know
As of midnight tonight, the NSW-Victoria border will be shut for the first time in a century.
Up to 350 Defence Force personnel will be deployed to enforce the closure, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller confirmed today.
"There will be some 100 members of defence on the ground from Thursday and that will grow to 350 over the weekend," Commissioner Fuller said.
"Obviously, from the NSW police perspective, it is an enormous operation. And an enormous task, nevertheless, we're ready to go," he said.
Here is everything we know so far about how the operation will work.
Harsh penalties for border hoppers
Police Minister David Elliott warned harsh penalties will be enforced for those trying to skirt around the new rules.
This will include on the spot fines of $1000 and a potential six months jail.
"If you want to do the wrong thing, you'll be caught. There will be other agencies, there will be police and defence personnel on those other crossings," Mr Elliott said.
"I want to make sure everyone knows we're serious when it comes to issuing these fines. They'll monetary and they could be custodial punishments," he said.
There will be some exemptions
Any NSW residents looking to return from Victoria after tonight's closure will have to fill out an exemption form and isolate for 14 days upon return.
Border towns will have easier access to crossing between the states, and are expected to be granted an automatic exemption when applying through Service NSW.
Victorians outside the border towns will have to have significant reasons for requesting an exemption.
Priority will be given to exemptions around caring, health and school. Truck drivers are also expected to be granted exemptions.
Service NSW will be taking applications within the coming days, and exemptions for those outside border towns will be reviewed manually.
Three categories of crossings
Commissioner Fuller said they have classed the different border crossings in three categories - category A is the five major border crossings, which will be staffed by police, ADF, transport staff and National Parks and Wildlife staff to facilitate crossing for those with exemptions.
The five crossings are Wodonga Place, South Albury, Hume Highway, Cobb highway, Stuart Highway, Bongara and the Princes Highway.
Category B crossings are 29 smaller roads which will only be staffed by police, and greater delays are expected.
20 category C crossings, which are dirt tracks, will be patrolled and have aerial surveillance.
Commissioner Fuller has asked no one cross the border in the next 72 hours unless completely necessary, as he foresees "challenges" as the operation gets underway.
"We'll ask if you don't have to cross the border, please don't," Commissioner Fuller said.
"It will be the most challenging phase of the operation, particularly whilst we are working through the exemptions, while we're working through setting up the infrastructure, while we're trying to get it right," he said.
Border towns will exist in a travel bubble
Commissioner Fuller said police are trying to "strike a good balance" for residents of border towns.
"I know there's an enormous amount of interest in the border towns, we're trying to strike a good balance for those local communities, knowing full well people across the borders every day for health, employment, education, and many, many other reasons," Commissioner Fuller said.
"Can I say that that bubble, or those postcodes, will be seen differently to other Victorians. So we'll make it, certainly easier, for those to travel across," he said.
"They will need an exemption. It will more than likely just need to apply for a simple exemption and that will see them through this crisis."
NSW will pay the border closure bill
Police Minister David Elliott has hit out at the Victorian Government's decision not to pay for border closure resources on their side of the fence.
"I would think that would be the decent thing to do, given this is an outbreak that's caused by a situation in Melbourne," Mr Elliott said.
"But we can't rely on other governments to do the right thing all the time. So as far as the New South Wales government is concerned, we'll be providing the financial support that's necessary," he said.
Originally published as How the NSW-Victoria border closure will affect you