NSW-VIC border reopens after 137-day COVID closure


November 23, 2020 10:05:57

The NSW-Victoria border has reopened, 137 days after it was slammed shut by Premier Gladys Berejiklian to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Source: ABC News
Duration: 43sec







The NSW-Victoria border has reopened, 137 days after it was slammed shut by Premier Gladys Berejiklian to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Victoria records one COVID-19 case, Daniel Andrews criticises Josh Frydenberg, NSW-Vic border could reopen within a month, Australia death toll at 905

Local golfers have splintered into two groups in response: those who believe the 24 hectares can be shared and those who think any change will undermine the nine-hole course.

Bill Jennings, who launched the We Play Golf at Northcote website, believes sharing the course is a slippery slope towards closing it to golfers.

Bill Jennings wants Northcote Golf Course to stay with golfers.Credit:Jason South

He said the public course was one of the few affordable ways for new and diverse players to discover golf.

“I think that golf’s not a very offensive sport when you’re talking about a public golf course. I understand the stereotypes about elite, entitled privileged white people characterised by people like Donald Trump and Sam Newman. That is not us. You know, people who play down there are not those people.”


Mr Jennings wants to pause the debate to see how public space is used once hospitality reopens after the COVID-19 lockdown.

Melbourne residents are still barred from congregating in homes or hospitality venues until at least November 2.

Ruth Liston, from Northcote, has been using the park about three times a week during lockdown and was gutted that golf was resuming.

“It’s been an absolute lifesaver for us during lockdown for walks, for picnics for socially distancing with friends, for seeing people and feeling like part of a community, for connecting with nature,” Ms Liston said.

“Losing that on Wednesday is devastating. Because even though some of the restrictions have lifted … life’s not going to be normal for a long time.”

Read the full story here.

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What residents need to know about the new NSW-Vic border restrictions

The New South Wales Government has introduced new restrictions on entering the state from Victoria, which continues to record high numbers of COVID-19 community transmission.

From midnight on Tuesday, July 21, there will only be three reasons permitting people to travel over the border — work, education, or healthcare.

Everybody with a current permit will have to reapply through the Service NSW website.

NSW border residents who travel into Victoria beyond the border zone will need to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.

Any other NSW resident who crosses the border into Victoria or has been there in the last 14 days will also need to isolate for 14 days.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews recognised the difficulties the restrictions would cause for residents in border communities.

“They won’t be easy, but I can understand why Premier Berijiklian has made the decisions she has made,” he said.

A welcome to New South Wales sign across the George Chaffey Bridge from Wodonga.
Anyone entering NSW from outside the border bubble in Victoria will have to isolate for 14 days.(ABC News: Christopher Testa)

Left in the dark

Previous restrictions allowed “everyday life” to continue for border residents, but under the new advice that is no longer the case.

Albury Mayor Kevin Mack said the changes would create major issues.

“The biggest issue is people and employment,” he said.

“The second biggest issue is our vulnerable people.”

Wodonga Mayor Anna Speedie said she was “frustrated” by the lack of consultation.

A woman talking via skype.
Wodonga Mayor Anna Speedie says she got little warning about the new measures.(ABC News)

“Our states are not sharing as well as they could be and should be,” she said.

Ms Speedie said she found out about the decision through a text message late yesterday.

Mr Mack said the announcement also took him by surprise.

“I would have thought on Friday we would have been in conversations about what this could look like, but we weren’t,” Mr Mack said.

Business not as usual

NSW Cross-Border Commissioner James McTavish said Victorians would only be allowed to cross into a “very narrow zone” within NSW.

“In most areas, it extends for two kilometres either side of the border and from the continuous built up area on either side,” he said.

“If you’re part of that continuous zone in Mildura, then you’re in the border zone.

The ABC understands that if you live outside the border zone in Victoria but work in NSW you won’t be allowed to cross the border.

A map of road and bridge border crossings between NSW and Victoria.
NSW and Victoria share at least 50 border crossings.(ABC News)

‘Disastrous consequences’

Albury-Wodonga oncologist Craig Underhill said he had concerns about the impact of the new restrictions, particularly on residents of smaller communities along the border.

He said in the first wave of lockdowns, breast cancer diagnoses to the Victorian registry fell by 37 per cent as women skipped screenings or did not report symptoms to their doctor.

“We know from the start of the pandemic, for example, that people weren’t accessing healthcare,” Dr Underhill said.

“We expect in the second half of the year and into next year there’ll be a bounce back and there’ll be people presenting later.”

An illuminated sign above a major road that reads "Stay home, stay safe, safe lives".
The coming days are critical in Victoria and NSW as we anxiously watch to see if the two outbreaks can be brought under control.(ABC News: Daniel Fermer)

Dr Underhill said he was also concerned at the impact it could have on the capacity of small medical facilities on the NSW side to cope with an increase in demand.

“The wording of the restriction implies people should not cross the border if they can avoid it,” he said.

Dr Underhill said the unexpected consequences of tighter restrictions on the border “could be disastrous”.

“They could exceed the problem they’re designed to prevent, which is COVID cases,” he said.

A sign saying no entry to nsw big fines next to a sign saying welcome to albury.
There will be exceptions for people who live in places like Albury-Wodonga which straddle the state line.(ABC News: Greg Ryan)

Shopping not an excuse

Mr McTavish acknowledged that the restrictions “will cause a substantial amount of anxiety”, particularly for residents of towns whose local supermarket is across the Murray River.

“Murray Downs [residents] will be able to get to Swan Hill to do their supermarket shopping because there is no alternative, and for some areas where there is no alternative, we have extended that zone a little further into NSW or a little further into Victoria,” he said.

Mr McTavish said he was still seeking clarification as to how restrictions would apply to seasonal workers based across the region.

“We are particularly conscious of the fact that horticultural enterprises are highly reliant on horticultural workers, so we are seeking some advice on that right now,” he said.

Commuters from towns such as Robinvale, meanwhile, may face lengthier trips to major centres like Mildura in cases where the most direct route takes them through NSW.

“I also seeking advice on that but I am expecting that it will not be permissible, as people will then be travelling outside of that tight border zone,” Mr McTavish said.

He also confirmed participation in sport would not qualify for cross-border travel.

Move the check point north

Dr Underhill said instead of installing checkpoints at the actual border, authorities should move them north so entire communities were captured rather than being split.

“Towns like Echuca-Moama, or Yarrawonga-Mulwala — instead of putting the checkpoint on the river, put it just north and then most of the movements, the number of vehicles that need to be processed, would be much less than they would be if you put it along the river where people are crossing to go shopping, or go to the doctor or go to school.”

Ms Speedie agreed moving the border further north would benefit cities like Albury and Wodonga.

“I think it would make life a lot easier for people on the border to be able to continue to operate their businesses,” she said.

Border residents can check their eligibility for a new permit and apply from today.

The commissioner said anyone concerned about their particular circumstances should call the Service NSW hotline on 13 77 88.

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Top cop deploys hundreds to patrol NSW-Vic borders

Leading cop deploys hundreds to patrol NSW-Vic borders

Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has unveiled his prepare to shut the borders concerning Australia’s two biggest states detailing the “enormous amounts of resources” essential to get the work carried out.

Mr Fuller mentioned scores of police – bolstered by 350 ADF officers – would patrol important crossings involving New South Wales and Victoria.

Their most important focus will be Wodonga Position, Hume Highway, Highway, Mule Freeway, Stuart freeway and the Princess freeway.

Mr Fuller explained he would do the job to reduce the burden on these dwelling close to borders.

“We are trying to strike a very good stability for those people communities being aware of complete effectively that individuals cross the boarders each individual day,” he reported.

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