South Australians resident in Victoria are streaming across the border in their thousands in a desperate attempt to get home before the border is closed to them.
At last count, more than 3 000 had crossed back into SA in the past three days, with more expected.
SA residents have been exempt from hard border
Up until now, SA residents have been exempt from the hard border regulations that keep out Victorians and residents from other states who have been in designated hot spot areas.
But all that changes from just after midnight tonight (Tuesday) when new rules kick in, ending the exemption for returning South Australians.
The tougher curbs on border entry were announced on Friday, after Premier Steven Marshall said 95% of South Australia’s coronavirus cases in the past two weeks had come from Victoria.
Closure is ‘a necessary response’ says police chief
For those who wish to return after that, there will be a 14-day quarantine period and the threat of a $1 000 fine for non-compliance.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said he understood the move may be difficult for some people, but he believed it was a necessary response to Victoria’s ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“It sends a message that people should not be complacent,” he said.
“This is not something we do lightly and we understand [that] this impacts families.”
Adelaide woman tells of family being split by new rules
Speaking to 7 News, Adelaide resident Mahalia Hughes said she had been forced to make a frantic decision to return to SA to look after her elderly parents.
Her husband, she said, was still in Melbourne packing up their home. She had no idea if he would make it back to Adelaide before the new regulations took effect.
“I felt like I was in the war, leaving my partner and being torn apart… it was really devastating,” she told 7 News.
Air travel is similarly impacted, with only a few flights coming into Adelaide from Melbourne before the border closure.