Hopes virus jab the light at end of tunnel

Border closures have sparked fresh tensions between state governments as Australians look for the “light at the end of the tunnel” when the coronavirus vaccine rolls out.

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack supports health measures put in place by state governments to keep people safe but is concerned Victoria’s new traffic light permit system is merely more red tape.

Mr McCormack says Victoria didn’t consult the federal government on the new regime, which categorises all areas of Australia as either red, orange or green based on the risk of coronavirus.

The restrictions someone faces upon entering Victoria depends on the colour of the area they are travelling from, with all visitors needing a permit to enter the state or face fines of almost $5000.

Mr McCormack says the vaccine rollout is still on track to begin next month.

“So there’s very much light at the end of the tunnel,” he told Seven’s Sunrise on Tuesday.

“This has been a very difficult process, we’re certainly not out of it yet.”

NSW reported five locally caught cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday, with the source of two infections in Sydney’s northern beaches under investigation.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged the community to remain vigilant.

“While we’re confident there hasn’t been another super-spreading event, that’s only for today,” she said.

Ms Berejiklian says Victoria’s permit system isn’t an approach NSW will adopt.

Greater Sydney remains classified as a red area for entry to Victoria, meaning it’s not possible without completing two weeks of hotel quarantine.

People from Greater Sydney still face travel restrictions in all other states and territories.

Meanwhile, no new cases of coronavirus have been detected in Brisbane, but authorities are racing to find people who have come into contact with two people with the highly infectious UK strain of the virus.

It comes after about two million people in Greater Brisbane emerged from a three-day lockdown on Monday night.

Face masks will remain mandatory in Brisbane at indoor public venues for the next nine days.

The end of the snap shut down, put in place to stop transmission of the highly infectious variant of the virus, has led to border restriction adjustments.

The Northern Territory and ACT have given a green light for residents to return from Greater Brisbane, lifting quarantine requirements for people who visited the city.

But West Australian Premier Mark McGowan is keeping his state’s border closed to Queensland until authorities are certain there is no community spread of the virus.

There remain no nationally consistent protocols on borders and hotspots.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox is concerned about a “race to the bottom” with states trying to copy or outdo Victoria.

“The way this is heading we may ultimately need a special domestic passport to get around the country.”

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