It took just one news notification to wreck the night Stella McNab had been waiting months for.
- Stella McNab is one of many Victorians who had to rush back from holidays in NSW
- She had gone to visit her closest friend in Wagga Wagga after not seeing her since March
- Thousands of people queued for hours in a bid to avoid quarantining for 14 days
The 21-year-old Melbourne student caught a train to Wagga Wagga on Wednesday, to spend the new year with her best friend.
The pair had not seen each other since March when lockdowns first began.
After a year of isolation and loneliness, separated from her family who live in regional Victoria, Stella was hoping to send off the year with joy.
Instead, her night was filled with anxiety as she became one of many Melburnians holidaying in NSW who had to rush to get back across the border before it closed.
“It’s been a really stressful and precarious time,” she said.
“Because I didn’t drive, I was sort of stuck in limbo and I didn’t feel like I got much of a warning when that notification came through on my phone.”
After 11:59pm last night they were being turned around at the border, and anyone returning from today is required to go through hotel quarantine for 14 days.
Hotel quarantine ‘not even an option’
Stella scrambled to get travel plans in place so that she could make it back to Melbourne for work.
Aiming to beat the backlog of cars at Albury, she got a lift from her friend Cherie to the border town of Barooga.
Cherie’s mother then picked her up from the border and drove her to Shepparton where she caught a train home.
Stella knew that she could not afford to miss work or pay for hotel quarantine.
“I don’t come from a family where my parents can give me money to do hotel quarantine, that’s not even an option,” she said.
“As a student and a 21-year-old, I don’t have a spare $3,000 that I can just fork out on it.”
She doesn’t think the Victorian Government should have closed the border to COVID-free parts of regional NSW.
“I lived through COVID in Melbourne and it was awful. My family are all from regional Victoria and it’s been months since I’ve seen my friends,” she said.
South Coast residents concerned over COVID cases
Meanwhile people in Bermagui have expressed concern about two positive cases from Victoria who recently travelled to the NSW south coast.
The pair visited the the Great Southern Hotel in Eden on December 30 and Bermi’s Beachside Café in Bermagui on December 31.
It is understood the two cases are connected to Melbourne’s Thai restaurant cluster.
Sydney holiday-maker Trevor said he was sad to hear the news — as Bermagui’s economy and community are still recovering after bushfires 12 months ago.
“Local businesses were really hopeful for a really good January period for this year to make up for it,” he said.
“But unfortunately it’s not going to happen for them.”
Contact tracing is underway for both venues.