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New permit for Moama residents into Echuca for essential goods and services

By Anna McGuinness

COMMUNITIES outside the Echuca-Moama bubble will have access to special permits to come to town for essential goods and services.

On Tuesday night, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard signed an exemption that will allow people in or near Moama, Barmah, Bunnaloo, Womboota and Mathoura into Echuca, and Koondrook into Barham.

According to the exemption, essential goods and services include food, fuel, hygiene products or disability support services necessary to enable the person to live safely and maintain their health, subject to the following conditions:

● The exemption does not authorise movement across the border zone or across the NSW-Victoria border if the essential goods and services referred to above are readily obtainable in a timely manner without such movement.

● The person using the most practicable direct route, to and from the person's place of residence, when obtaining, or travelling to obtain, the essential goods and services.

There will not be any change for Echuca residents, who are still only allowed to cross the NSW border for work, education and medical or health care.

Rich River Golf Club marketing and sales manager Paul Lavars said while the change was good, it did not help Moama businesses.

“It really doesn’t change anything for us, we’re definitely going to be relying on those Moama and surrounds people to be our support network for the next however many weeks,” he said.

Mr Lavars said the tighter border restrictions enforced from Wednesday cut another three quarters of the club’s revenue.

“We’ve just lost the entire Echuca town of support, our golf members can’t come and play, people can’t come over for our meals,” he said.

“When we lost the Victorian market we were probably doing 20 per cent of our normal business, and then we adapted to look after Echuca-Moama, and now we’ve lost Echuca, so the pot gets smaller every week.

“We’re almost in a harder lockdown than Melbourne because even they can visit their local golf course and our Echuca members can’t.

“We’re pretty hopeful they get something through to shift the border past the town of Moama so we can get back to a bit of normal business and habits again,” he said.

Murray River Council mayor Chris Bilkey said the council welcomed these exemptions “which will now allow eligible residents to access Victoria for their essential services”.

“We now wait in anticipation for further clarity around border community workers and hope for some further exemptions to allow our residents to continue in their day-to-day jobs,” he said.

The government has not confirmed when people will be able to apply for the new ‘remote community resident permit’.

A full list of eligible remote communities is available on the Service NSW website.

NSW Health and Mr Hazzard were contacted for comment.

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