TRAVEL freedom will return between Victoria and New South Wales on November 23 after 138 days of permits and restricted access.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s announcement on Wednesday came as Victoria edged towards a week of recording no new COVID-19 cases.
And it came ahead of Sunday night’s further easing of restrictions in Victoria with the “ring of steel” separating regional and metropolitan areas to end.
NSW border checkpoints have been in place since July 10 when Victoria’s deadly second wave of the virus escalated.
Police have been at Chaffey Bridge, Abbotsford Bridge and Robinvale for more than four months sending back people from outside border bubbles and without valid permits. Until last week, ADF personnel were part of the border force.
Premier Berejiklian’s decision to re-open the borders has been welcomed in Sunraysia but also put new pressure on South Australia to allow Victorians to cross that border.
Mildura MP Ali Cupper said: “New South Wales announcing it will reopen its border with Victoria on November 23 will put more pressure on the South Australian Government to follow suit.”
She said the NSW border announcement was “an amazing milestone which would help bring back some normality for border regions.”
“This announcement is a long time coming and it has been a very difficult period for border communities economically and socially,” she said.
Ms Cupper acknowledged South Australia’s allowances this week to scrap weekly COVID-19 tests for communities in the 70km border bubble, but said the time had come to reopen the border entirely.
“The NSW Government’s decision sends a strong signal to South Australia that if it drags its feet for much longer it will increasingly become a pariah among the states,” she said.
“SA Premier Steven Marshall has indicated his state will look to re-open to Victoria in a few weeks, but with a 14-day quarantine period. This is not good enough. There is no need for 14-day quarantine given there are only 30 active cases in Victoria and none in regional Victoria.”
Mildura Grand Hotel’s sports bar owner Mario Mammone said the opening of the border was great news. “It has impacted us to some degree and with the imminent opening of the gaming room next week people will start coming back in after the 23rd and we do have a lot of patrons from NSW visits us.”