NSW promises to ease border restrictions

By Geoff Adams

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is promising to further ease restrictions on cross-border travel with Victoria.

In a media conference on Wednesday, September 16, the Premier specifically mentioned the easing of restrictions around Shepparton and surrounding towns.

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

Anything allowed under the third step COVID-19 restrictions in regional Victoria will be extended to NSW.

"Now restrictions have been eased in regional Victoria, we are similarly doing that for our border communities to have consistency," Ms Berejiklian said.

"So whatever you can do in regional Victoria you can do in those [border] communities.

"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 shearers 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.

Vineyard worker Leo Patterson lives in Shepparton and works in Barooga, just over the Murray 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 apply for a travel permit online and received approval on Sunday.

"I live in north Shepparton, so it was just inside the border zone," he said. 

"If I was further south I may not have been able to get across yet."

Ms Berejiklian said the amended public health orders that would allow the change were currently with NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and should be signed by Thursday, September 17.

"Essentially there will be an easing of what border communities can do, given the easing of restrictions in Victoria," she said.

"The health advice is when the risk in Victoria eases we want to provide as much relief as possible for our border communities.”