In response to a spike of COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, authorities in Australia have closed the borders between the country’s two most populous states – Victoria and New South Wales. The move effectively stops travel between its two major film hubs of Melbourne and Sydney.
Melbourne, in Victoria, confirmed a record 127 new cases of the virus and two deaths overnight; local health officials have begun shutting down some neighborhoods in response. Borders will close at 12.01AM local time on July 8, there will be a permit system in place to allow those who need to work to continue to travel, which should allow film and TV workers to cross the border if they successfully apply for the exemption.
This is the first time for 100 years that the border has been closed between the two states; it last happened in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic. There is currently no timetable in place for the re-opening. Military personnel will be deployed to prevent crossings.
Australia’s response to the pandemic has been largely successful to date, with just 8,500 confirmed cases nationwide. The situation in Melbourne, however, has triggered fresh concerns.
Some film and TV production in the country has resumed, and major international productions are eyeing restart dates, including Disney/Marvel’s Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings at Fox Studios in Sydney, and Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley picture with Austin Butler and Tom Hanks, which the latter recently said is eyeing October for a restart. It is not immediately clear if the new difficulties in the country could be a setback for production.
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