The NSW premier has lashed out at state leaders for slamming their borders shut without a word when they could have just picked up the phone.
She has also come under fire from the same premiers for her staunch refusal to lock Sydney down and instead kill off the outbreak with ‘gold standard’ contact tracing.
The outbreak began in the Northern Beaches on December 16, and a separate cluster opened up in Western Sydney on December 29.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney on January 9
The Corso in Manly with a Covid-19 notice on January 3 – just three weeks after the Northern Beaches outbreak
Residents from hotspots were banned from leaving their homes, but retailers and venues around the rest of the city were free to trade with any other Sydneysiders wearing a face mask.
Despite NSW recording consecutive days or low or no cases after the infections were contained, Sydney residents are still banned from all but the NT and the whole state by several areas.
Ms Berejiklian took a jab at Victorian premier Daniel Andrews last week for failing to consult her before he closed the borders to people in Sydney in December.
‘Firstly, please talk to us in NSW before you close the border,’ she said in her coronavirus update on Sunday.
When asked on Sunday if Victoria told the NSW government ahead of time that they would close the border, Health Minister Martin Foley said: ‘Yes’.
Ms Berejiklian doubled down on her comments on Monday and explained that most states don’t ask her before shutting state lines.
‘Sometimes they’ll let me know, sometimes they don’t. When they do let me know, the decision has already been made,’ she said.
‘I would love to have had input and say, rather than closing all of NSW or Sydney from a particular state, please just consider the northern beaches or give us 24 hours to get back to you on how we can manage this.’
The premier also pointed out that locking millions of Sydneysiders out of every state and territory in the country impacts ‘every single citizen in NSW’.
‘It affects citizens in other states and I think as leaders, and I include myself in this, all of us can do better.’
‘We should allow each other to have input in those processes rather than being told of the decision.’
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan speaks during a media conference at Dumas House on December 7
Surfers from the South Bondi Surf Club and the Surry Hills Sluzzas prepare to enter the water at Bondi Beach in December
An estimated 60,000 people made a mad dash to the Victorian border before midnight on New Year’s Day after the state suddenly shut its borders to avoid a NSW coronavirus outbreak.
Checkpoint queues stretched more than 40km as motorists rushed to cross to avoid having to spend 14 days in home quarantine.
WA Premier Mark McGowan, who closed the border to all of NSW earlier and took just hours to do the same to Victoria, countered by insisting Ms Berejiklian ‘respect’ what other states did.
‘The whole country is not NSW. Other States need to protect ourselves from spread of the infection from NSW and from States that are infected,’ he said.
‘The border controls have worked. Hotel quarantine has worked. International borders have worked.
‘The country as a whole has done an amazing job compared to anywhere else in the world. I just think this nitpicking and undermining should stop.’
Digital signs encourage customers to wear face masks at Westfield Bondi Junction in line with NSW Government regulations on January 3
Ms Berejiklian took a subtle jab at Victorian premier Daniel Andrews last week for failing to consult her before he closed the borders to people in Sydney in December
Despite his calls for ‘respect’ for what states choose to do to combat coronavirus, Mr McGowan then trashed Ms Berejiklian’s strategy for not being the same as his.
‘There’s five states and two territories doing one thing, and one state doing something different. I go with the majority,’ he said on Monday.
‘The states and territories that want to eliminate the virus, I think, have the right approach. The idea that you tick along with the virus and somehow that is a better model is wrong.
‘And I just urge the NSW Government and people in NSW to look outside of NSW to what other states and territories are doing in order to crush and kill the virus. That’s a better approach.
‘The idea that somehow it’s better… to just manage it, I don’t think is the correct approach.’
This was despite NSW recording just three new cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, NSW Health said on Monday.
Ms Berejiklian has in recent days and weeks copped flak from Victoria and Queensland on the issue, as both premiers believe Sydney should have locked down weeks ago.
Her strategy has instead been to lock down the northern beaches, ground zero of the outbreak, and limit gathering sizes and enforce indoor mask wearing in the rest of the city.
Only a handful of cases a day have since been recorded in the past two weeks.
People carrying luggage wear face masks as they make their way through Brisbane CBD amid lockdowns on January 11
SES crews check restricted access permits issued to residents at a check point about 120km north of Perth
The Federal Government has previously been highly critical of premiers and chief ministers for maintaining harsh restrictions and border closures.
However, Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack struck a more sympathetic tone on Monday about the ‘different means and methods’ embraced by states to keep their residents safe.
‘While I understand and appreciate that border lockdowns have had an impact on people’s lives and livelihoods, what we’ve actually been able to see is Australia remain as largely Covid-free as possible,’ he told ABC radio.
‘With the vaccine coming on board in the early parts of this year, I think that will be another step in the right direction as far as getting into a more normal existence that we enjoyed before Covid.’
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly believes post-Covid ‘normal’ existence is more than six months away.
‘It is a bit hard to tell now… I can’t look into my crystal ball, I’m afraid,’ Professor Kelly told reporters in Canberra.
‘(But) every single person that gets their two doses of vaccine and gets that very strong protection against severe illness, will give people more confidence, will give the public health system more confidence, will give our politicians – that need to make these decisions in the end – more confidence.’