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Victoria boots towns from NSW border bubble

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Premier Daniel Andrews says the Victorian-NSW border could stay shut into 2022, as towns on both sides of the Murray River are booted from the border bubble.

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As COVID-19 cases rise across both sides of the Murray River, six Victorian and two NSW local government areas will be tossed out of the border bubble from midnight tonight.

It means residents from Greater Bendigo, Greater Shepparton, City of Benalla, Buloke, Loddon, Yarriambiack, Broken Hill and Edward River will be unable to cross the state lines on a permit.

“With over one thousand cases per day, and a trajectory of exponential growth, the risk that NSW poses to Victoria is bigger than ever,” Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said in a statement last night.

Earlier, Premier Daniel Andrews was asked if the border could remain shut to NSW “well into next year”.

He replied: “Yes. No one is happy about that but again we will have many more options once we get to 80 per cent and once they (NSW) are at 80 per cent.”

It comes as the Victorian government conceded efforts to bring coronavirus cases down to zero have failed, with tough restrictions to remain in place until October.

Victoria yesterday recorded 120 new coronavirus cases, the first time the state has reached triple COVID-19 figures since last year.

Authorities have now shifted their focus to suppressing the outbreak, keeping the health system from being overwhelmed, while racing to reach higher vaccination coverage.

The state’s current restrictions, which include a 9pm to 5am curfew and a five-kilometre travel limit, will remain until about September 23, when 70 per cent of the eligible population is expected to have received the first vaccine dose.

After hitting that mark, there will be slightly more freedom, including the travel limit expanding to 10km and the time limit on exercise increasing to three hours.

Playgrounds, however, will reopen on Friday for children aged 12 and under with the supervision of just one parent or guardian, who must wear a mask at all times and check-in.

Andrews said regional Victoria, with the exception of Shepparton, where a virus outbreak is still growing, could emerge from lockdown as early as next week.

-AAP

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