That’s one way to start 2021: Mates enjoying New Year’s Eve camping trip with no phone reception are STRANDED in the wilderness 10km from the Victorian border after it was slammed shut overnight – and they had no idea
- Daniel Forrest and mates spent New Year’s camping in NSW Snowy Mountains
- Had no phone reception or any idea that Victoria has about to slam borders shut
- Now stranded in NSW as they wait for clearance from Victorian authorities
A group of young Victorians who spent New Year’s camping in remote bushland remain stranded in New South Wales after they failed to cross the border before it shut due to new Covid rules.
Daniel Forrest, 19, and three mates set off from Wangaratta in Victoria’s north-east last Monday to ring in 2021 in the NSW Snowy Mountains, just 10km from the Victorian border.
Without any mobile phone reception, they had no idea a fresh coronavirus outbreak had emerged in Melbourne, and started in NSW, prompting the Victoria government to give its residents until midnight January 1 to cross the border or face 14 days hotel quarantine.
The first they knew of the borders being slammed shut was on Saturday, when Mr Forrest found five missed calls from his frantic mum saying ‘you better get back, you better get back’.
A group of mates from Wangaratta are camped out on the NSW border near East Gippsland, awaiting for clearance from Victorian authorities to get home. Pictured are police patrolling a border checkpoint near Mallacoota
‘We were just out there, sitting in the river and drinking beer and enjoying our New Year’s and come back and it’s sort of like [the John Marsden novel] Tomorrow, When the War Began and it’s all closed up again,’ Mr Forrest told the ABC.
The group camped out near the Black Mountain checkpoint in East Gippsland as they await clearance from Victorian authorities to continue their journey home, which could take up to five days.
Mr Forrest remains hopeful they can still avoid hotel quarantine.
‘We haven’t seen anyone, so there’s no way we could have contracted the virus, or anything at all,’ he added.
Victorians holidaying in NSW made a frantic dash for the border after the Victoria government declared plans to close its borders on Wednesday.
Daniel Forrest and his mates were camping in the NSW Snowy Mountains (pictured) with no phone reception, unaware of the crisis that was emerging back home in Victoria
The Black Rock cluster from a Thai restaurant in Melbourne’s bayside suburbs has grown to 21 after three new cases on Sunday.
The cluster has sparked by a diner who had recently been in NSW.
Anyone who didn’t make it home before midnight Thursday required a border permit to cross border and must isolate at home for 14 days.
The lengthy queues at border checkpoints continued on Friday as Victorians scrambled to get in the home state before midnight to avoid hotel quarantine at their own expense.
Residents who live in border communities who have not left the area in the last 14 days don’t need a permit.
Mr Forrest and his mates were camping in the Snowy Mountains (pictured) just 10km away from the Victorian border
Around 1,500 Victorians have applied for an exemption.
‘We will get to them as quickly and as safely as we possibly can, recognising of course that we’ve been providing advice for a while now about the risks of travelling into NSW,’ Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar told reporters on Sunday.
He sympathised with Victorians stranded by the restrictions, ‘but we have to take a view about what’s right for the wider Victorian community’.
Meanwhile, Victoria expects most of the 60,000 residents who have returned from NSW to be tested by Wednesday.
‘I would expect in the next two days or so, we will ensure that the majority of those people have got through,’ Mr Weimar said.
‘I am confident the vast majority will follow through and say, right, I now need to make sure I get tested because I don’t want to put myself at risk and more importantly I don’t want to put the wider community at risk, including the people closer to me.’
Victorians holidaying in NSW made a frantic dash to get home before midnight January 1 to avoid 14 days hotel quarantine. Pictured is the queue at a border checkpoint near Mallacoota
COVID TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
- Western Australia – All NSW residents are banned from entering WA. Anyone who enters the state will be ‘sent back’, according to Premier Mark McGowan.
- Victoria – A hard border has been put up, with the entire state of NSW declared a red zone. If people cross into Victoria before 11.59pm on New Year’s Eve, they must self- isolate until they test negative. If they enter before 11.59pm on New Year’s Day, they must self-isolate for 14 days regardless of test results. If they cross into the state after January 1, they must spend two weeks in mandatory hotel quarantine.
- Northern Territory – The state has declared greater metropolitan Sydney as a Covid-19 hotspot, and travellers will need to undergo 14 days of supervised quarantine.
- South Australia – Harder border closure to all NSW residents from midnight on New Year’s Eve. Returning South Australians must quarantine for 14 days. A 100km border buffer zone, including Broken Hill and Wentworth, will be exempt.
- Queensland – Queensland has shut its borders to Greater Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast. Locals returning to the Sunshine State from a hotspot must isolate.
- ACT – Anyone travelling to the ACT from a Covid-19 hotspot in NSW will now require an exemption. People from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Greater Sydney, the Central Coast and Wollongong will not be legally permitted to enter the ACT without a valid pass from midday on Saturday January 2.
- Tasmania – Northern Beaches residents banned. All people from Greater Sydney must also quarantine upon entry.