NSW promises to ease border restrictions

By Geoff Adams

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is promising to further loosen up restrictions on cross-border travel with Victoria, which may ease the pressure on farm workers.

However, the health regulations have not yet been written and she suggested it could be a week before they come into effect.

Vineyard worker Leo Patterson lives in Shepparton and works in Barooga, just over the river in NSW.

He was prevented from working for five weeks and had to take annual leave because of the restrictions.

Under changes introduced last week he was able to make an application for a travel permit online and received approval on Sunday.

“I live in north Shepparton, so it was just inside the border zone. If I was further south I may not have been able to get across yet.”

He went back to work on Monday, September 14.

Ms Berejiklian announced that with restrictions easing in regional Victoria, NSW was similarly doing so for border communities.

“So whatever you can do in regional Victoria you can do in those [border] communities,” she said.

“We're also increasing the number of towns, I think around Shepparton, that will be included in the border community and we will provide hundreds of exemptions for shearer and harvesters to make sure critical ag workers are getting across the border.”

Restrictions have prevented agricultural workers from crossing into NSW from certain parts of Victoria.

Ms Berejiklian said the amended public health orders which would allow the change were currently with NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and should be signed Wednesday or Thursday, September 23 or 24.

Meanwhile, Melburnians will be slugged almost $5000 if caught trying to sneak into regional Victoria under a tough new penalty.

Victoria Police will crack down on regional travel as coronavirus rules eased outside of Melbourne at midnight on September 16.

The $4957 fine will apply to any adult who tries to travel out of the city without a lawful excuse.

Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said the fine was designed to deter people from Melbourne attempting to run the gauntlet.

Mr Nugent said police would be checking more vehicles at roadblocks out of the city, inevitably leading to long delays.