A number of central Victoria local government areas are included in the border bubble that will come with the closure of the Victorian-NSW border on January 1.
A spokesperson for the government said the border bubbles will be the same as the last time Victorian-NSW border crossings were restricted.
Residents in the Greater Bendigo, Buloke, Campaspe, Gannawarra and Loddon councils are included on the list of border bubble areas.
It means they are exempt from carrying a permit. But they must carry photo identification with their current residential address on it.
Victoria is closing its border to New South Wales after confirming two further cases of COVID-19 in one day.
It makes for a total of five new cases in Victoria on Thursday, and three on Wednesday.
Acting premier Jacinta Allan said the two new positive cases came as a result of the testing program that was underway.
The cases were close contacts of the known positive cases to date.
More than 70 people are now in isolation as a result of Victorian cluster.
Ms Allan said the public health team was doing extensive work to track their movements and exposure sites.
Victoria's border with New South Wales closes at 11:59pm on January 1.
"This is not an easy choice and certainly not one we wanted to be making and announcing on a day that is supposed to be about celebrating," Ms Allan said.
But she said Victoria had to remain vigilant and keep ahead of where the case numbers might be, particularly in light of the case numbers coming out of New South Wales.
New South Wales today announced 10 new cases of community transmission.
The Victorian government has again called on any of the state's residents visiting in New South Wales to get home.
Wollongong and the Blue Mountains will be added to Victoria's list of red zones after 11:59pm today.
The rest of New South Wales will be red zoned as of midnight on Friday.
Ms Allan said any Victorians coming home would need to get COVID tested and go into isolation for 14 days.
"Obviously this is going to cause some disruption for Victorians who are holidaying," she said.
"We do apologise for this disruption, however these difficult decisions are about protecting our community, protecting and keeping low the case numbers in our community, and doing everything we can to lock in the gains we've made over the course of 2020, so we can move into 2021 and have a much better year."
Victorians who don't make it home from a red zone before the deadlines might have to enter hotel quarantine.
Ms Allan encouraged anyone concerned they might not be able to return in those timeframes to contact the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to discuss their travel plans and eligibility for exemptions.
In a statement, Ms Allan said details on travel between Victoria and New South Wales for border communities would be confirmed shortly.
Information would also be forthcoming for those travelling through New South Wales from other parts of the nation.
"Existing provisions for freight, domestic air crews, those exiting mandatory quarantine, medical care and emergency services will remain the same," the statement said.
VICTORIANS planning a New Year's Eve party at their homes will need to reduce attendee numbers from 30 down to 15, as new restrictions come into effect.
It comes following new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.
From 5pm on Thursday, the limit for people gathering in private homes will be reduced from 30 to 15.
"So, if you are planning a party tonight you will need to reduce your numbers from 30 down to 15," acting premier and Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan said.
Masks will also be mandatory indoors from 5pm in any location that's not a person's private home.
Three new COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Wednesday evening, ending Victoria's 60-day streak without community transmission of the virus.
Three further cases were identified on Thursday, all of whom are close contacts of the three cases confirmed on Wednesday evening.
There are 10 active cases of COVID-19 in the state.
Ms Allan said the three cases identified on Wednesday had direct or indirect links to the Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in Black Rock.
They included a woman in her 40s in the Mitcham area, a woman in her 40s in the Mentone area, and a 70-year-old woman in the Hallam area.
One case and two close contacts of cases attended the Smile Buffalo restaurant on the night of December 21, along with a returned traveller from New South Wales.
"That traveller is being tested as a matter of urgency today and we're working closely with NSW Health to investigate their movements in NSW," Ms Allan said.
"The traveller returned to NSW prior to the Victorian border permit system being put in place.
"We are urging anyone who visited the Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in Black Rock on December 21 to go and get tested as quickly as possible, to then quarantine at home and also please contact the health department."
Ms Allan said the department was working with the restaurant to identify all the staff and patrons who attended that night.
Victoria's testing chief Jeroen Weimar said the cases highlighted the highly infectious nature of the virus.
He said two related positive cases in Mentone and Hallam were family members from separate households, who were believed to have been at the restaurant on December 21.
"Also entirely separately at the same venue was a close contact of the positive case in Mitcham," Mr Weimar said.
"We believe that is a connection point between the three cases."
He said the three women whose cases were confirmed on Wednesday all did the right thing.
"They became symptomatic, they came forward, they got tested, and it's only because they got tested that we're now able to identify this particular cluster and to start the important work of identifying anybody else who might be at risk in the Victorian community," Mr Weimar said.
Fifty-two of those women's close contacts had been contacted by the time of the press conference.
"Those close contacts are across a wide area of Melbourne and those close contacts include people in Leongatha and in Barwon Heads," Mr Weimar said.
"This shows, particularly at this holiday time, how widely we all travel and how widely we all meet, and we've seen... a number of significant private gatherings involving these individuals over the last week."
Mr Weimar expected more contacts would be identified throughout the day and more cases would emerge.
UPDATE. Exposure sites now include:— VicGovDHHS (@VicGovDHHS) December 30, 2020
• Black Rock: Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant. 21 December
• Doveton: Holy Family Parish Doveton Catholic. 26/12/20, 4:00pm-6:00pm
• Mentone: Mentone/Parkdale Beach. 27/12/20, 10:00am - 4:30pm
Health Minister Martin Foley said the situation Victorians were facing was "very serious".
"Victorians who have sacrificed so much are not going to go back to a situation where we face what we did last winter," Mr Foley said.
He apologised for the short notice in the change of restrictions, but said the virus did not respect borders or New Year's Day.
"We know this will disrupt a whole heap of plans across the state, and we apologise for that. But these measures are necessary to keep Victorians safe," Mr Foley said.
Six of the state's 10 active cases are in hotel quarantine, and four were locally acquired.
The health minister urged Victorians in New South Wales to come back, and those planning a trip not to travel to New South Wales.
"You do not want to be caught on the wrong side of a rapidly evolving situation," Mr Foley said.
New South Wales recorded 10 new cases of community transmission in the 24-hours to 8pm last night.
People are urged to get tested for coronavirus if they have visited:
- Smile Buffalo Thai, Black Rock, December 21
- Holy Family Parish Doveton Catholic Church on December 26 between 4pm-6pm
- Kmart, Big W, Target, Millers, King of Gifts and Lacoste at Fountain Gate Shopping Centre on December 26 between 9am-11am
- Mentone/Parkdale beach on December 27 between 10am-4.30pm
- Century City Walk and Mocha Jo's in Glen Waverley on December 28, between 1.30pm-5pm
- Katialo restaurant in the Eaton Mall, Oakleigh on December 28 between 7pm-8.15pm
- Cape Schank: National Golf Club, The Cups Drive. 30/12/20, 11.40am - 1.30pm
The list of exposure sites can be found at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/case-locations-and-outbreaks. For more information, phone the COVID-19 hotline on 1800 675 398.
We have removed our paywall from this storyabout thecoronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we want to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists, subscribe here.