Australian state borders reopen with zero local virus cases

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Australian state borders reopen with zero local virus cases

* Two most populous states to ease border restrictions

* NSW state records 11th day of zero local COVID-19 cases

* Victoria state records 22nd day of zero local cases

* The state of Queensland will reopen the border with NSW

* Victoria suggests moving Sydney to the “green zone”

By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY, Jan.28 (Reuters) – Australia’s most populous state New South Wales on Thursday recorded its 11th day of zero local coronavirus cases, allowing neighboring Queensland to lift restrictions at the borders while the state of Victoria has also suggested that it is also possible to relax travel with Sydney.

Australian states have imposed quarantine restrictions or strict borders on travelers from New South Wales (NSW) after an outbreak in Sydney in late December, throwing Christmas vacation plans for thousands of Australians into chaos.

The Sydney clusters have now been held back, giving other states the confidence to reopen the borders. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said her state will welcome residents of NSW from February 1.

“I want to see families and friends reunited,” Palaszczuk said at a televised press conference.

“We know how important the New South Wales market is, so for viewers currently in Sydney and looking for an escape, there is no better place than the tropical far north.”

The south-eastern state of Victoria, home to the Australian Open tennis Grand Slam, also hinted that border parameters with Sydney would change on Friday. The state recorded its 22nd day of zero local cases.

Victoria has introduced a permit system for all travelers that allows areas to be designated as green, orange or red depending on their risk.

Travelers from a red zone are not allowed to enter Victoria while those in the orange zone will be required to take a coronavirus test within three days of arrival.

“I hope to have no red zones in NSW by the end of tomorrow, a much larger green zone, but there may be remnants of a few areas that remain orange,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Australia has reported more than 22,000 local cases of COVID-19 and 909 deaths since March.

The country, which closed international borders at the start of the pandemic and imposed strict lockdowns and social distancing measures, ranked in the top 10 in a COVID performance index for its successful management of the disease. Global COVID Tracker

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