POLICE remain active on the George Chaffey Bridge, although an easing of Victoria’s entry rules has made life easier for Sunraysia’s border residents who have been patiently passing through the checkpoint on a daily basis.
Residents on the border are no longer required to hold a border bubble permit, a move welcomed by NSW Member for Murray Helen Dalton.
“This is a huge relief to border communities, especially all those businesses who rely so much on customers from the other side of the Murray,” Mrs Dalton said.
“What this means is that Victorians can come to Barham, Moama, Wentworth, Deniliquin and other towns small towns to have a meal or stay in a hotel.
“It will provide a much needed stream of revenue to businesses who have done it extremely tough for two years.”
Mildura Police Superintendent Rebecca Olsen said more than 1000 vehicles a day were being checked during the current operation enforcing travel permit rules.
Supt. Olsen said more than 300 cautions had been issued for non-compliance with Chief Health Officer directions.
These largely related to attempts to cross the border without a permit, with a significant number of vehicles turned back.
But Supt. Olsen added that most intercepts had been compliant.
“During the initial stages of the operation we exercised a high degree of tolerance,” she said.
“However, as the situation in New South Wales worsened, our level of tolerance diminished.
“Our focus and attention is being shared with Victoria now in this ever-changing environment, as we continue to look south to Melbourne and high risk regional areas.”
She said there was a concern during school holidays some people in Melbourne and Ballarat, where there are cases, may have a “temptation” to travel, which needed to be discouraged.
The relaxing of border rules this week saw Wentworth Shire become a red zone, along with all local government areas on the border except Albury.
Border residents in red zones who haven’t left the cross-border area in the previous 14 days can enter Victoria without a permit for any reason.
But that status was subject to change should cases emerge.
Fragments of COVID-19 were last weekend detected in Dareton sewage, prompting a testing push.
Locked-down Albury, as well as the Broken Hill and Central Darling municipalities, remained in the more severe category of extreme risk zone.
Those who have been to an extreme risk zone were still required to obtain a permit to enter Victoria and only travel for permitted reasons.
Supt. Olsen said metropolitan police force members had been “overwhelmed by the kindness” they had experienced from the Mallee community while assisting with the border operation.
“As a border bubble community we have all been living a cross-border lifestyle during frustrating times for 18 months now and I look forward to us returning to a borderless community,” she said.
“We have seen many beautiful highlights with a young child reunited with his family having been separated by the regional closures.
“We have seen the joined-up work across the states bringing accommodation to where it was needed.
“We have assisted many return to their homes, their families and their communities and these are the ‘pat on the back times’ that our members remember the most.”