NSW Police Force commence operation ahead of NSW/Victoria border closures

The NSW Police Force will launch a large-scale operation to enforce the closure of the NSW/Victorian border tonight.

The Public Health (COVID-19 NSW and Victorian Border) Order 2020, under section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010, will be issued later today (Tuesday 7 July 2020). It will direct that from midnight (Wednesday 8 July 2020), no one can enter NSW from Victoria, unless they can fulfil specific exemption criteria.

At present, the border is closed to those from Victorian ‘hotspot’ postcodes, with the entire greater Melbourne area now deemed a hotspot.

As the scope widens and the border closes entirely, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has appointed Assistant Commissioner Scott Whyte as Operation Commander, to lead approximately 650 police officers in support of local police.

The high-visibility operation will include General Duties officers from across NSW, as well as Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, and other specialist units, such as the Rescue and Bomb Disposal Unit.

Police will also be assisted by the Australian Defence Force – with 350 personnel to be deployed from Thursday (9 July 2020).

Assistance will also be provided by other government agencies; including Transport For NSW, and NSW National Parks as required.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said that as always, safety remains the top priority.

“The aim of this operation is to keep NSW safe – the broader NSW community, as well as NSW Police officers and operation support personnel,” the Commissioner said.

“I know this closure will inconvenience many on both sides of the border, but the dangers and flow-on effects that accompany a second wave of COVID-19 are not something we want to see for our state.

“We have engaged with Local Members of Parliament and the Mayors of Albury and Wodonga to ensure local communities understand how the Public Health Orders impact on them and so we can work together to minimise disruptions to everyday lives.

“We anticipate the first 72 hours will be challenging, so we ask the community to be patient and work with us. Importantly, if you don’t need to cross the border, don’t,” Commissioner Fuller said.

There are 54 border crossings within five Police Districts across two Police Regions (Southern and Western), which will require both static and mobile policing strategies.

Of the 54 crossings, 34 have been prioritised into three categories (A, B, C) depending on the traffic flow, location and characteristics, while the remining 20 crossings are tracks and trails.

The six category ‘A’ locations – which are the main crossings – are:

Wodonga Place, South Albury

Hume Hwy, South Albury

Cobb Hwy, Moama

Newell Hwy, Tocumwal

Sturt Hwy, Buronga

Princes Hwy, Tambillica

Police will also continue to assist NSW Health at Sydney Airport and regional airports with the screening of passengers arriving from Victoria, who have exemptions under the Public Health Act.

Travellers who are departing from or arriving at airports in NSW are urged to adhere to the directions of airline staff, airport security, and NSW Health practitioners/officers.

The Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) provides police with the power to enforce Public Helath Orders. It is an offence for a person to fail to comply with an order, and severe penalties apply, which include a maximum penalty of up to $11,000 and/or six months imprisonment for individuals.

The standard penalty will be a $1000 fine by way of a Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN).

Anyone wishing to travel into NSW will need to apply for an exemption online via Service NSW.

It is an offence to provide false information when applying for exemptions. A substainal fine applies.

Police continue to appeal to the community to report suspected breaches of any ministerial direction or behaviour which may impact on the health and safety of the community.

Anyone who has information regarding individuals or businesses in contravention of a COVID-19-related ministerial direction is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence.

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