Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Victoria downgrades Covid border rules for some regional NSW LGAs

Thousands of Victorians will be allowed to return home within hours after Premier Daniel Andrews downgraded dozens of NSW LGAs.

Thousands of Victorians stuck in NSW will be able to return home, with the state’s border rules changing overnight.

From 11.59pm Sunday night, the parts of regional NSW that aren’t in lockdown will be downgraded from extreme risk to red zones, meaning people with exemptions can cross the border.

Exemptions are currently only available to cross-border residents. Anyone coming from a red zone must also be tested within 72 hours of crossing the border.

From tonight, Victorians living in any of the 67 NSW LGAs, not in lockdown will be able to apply for a permit to travel back to Victoria without an exemption. However, they will be required to undergo 14 days of quarantine upon arrival.

People living in the Albury-Wodonga border community will have to wait a bit longer before they can enter Victoria after Albury was plunged into a seven-day snap lockdown at 6pm on Thursday.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced the changes on Sunday, saying the move was part of a plan to bring stranded Victorians home.

“We have the red zone declaration as opposed to the extreme zone declarations for all the non- lockdown parts of NSW, so those people, which will be hundreds and perhaps thousands of people, will now be able to get a permit and come home,” he said.

“The next group I am focused on … are the thousands of people who are Victorians in that extreme zone, in Sydney proper. We want to get them back.

“I can’t have them all come back on one day, but I want to have thousands of them come back every few weeks, there is a thousand, and then the next thousand, that is what we are aiming for.”

The announcement came as Mr. Andrews unveiled the state’s highly-anticipated roadmap out of lockdown.

Under the roadmap, the first significant changes to the lockdown rules will kick in when 70 percent of residents over the age of 16 are fully vaccinated, a milestone Victoria is expected to hit around October 26.

The changes will include:

• Abandoning the curfew and six reasons to leave home in Melbourne

• Allowing people to travel up to 25km from home

• Fully vaccinated residents will be able to gather outdoors in groups of 10

• Pubs, clubs and entertainment venues, outdoor pools, and amusement parks can reopen with up to 50 fully vaccinated people outdoors.

• Hairdressers can reopen

• Outdoor weddings, funerals, and religious services can occur with up to 50 fully vaccinated attendees

• In regional Victoria, indoor community sports can return, and up to 30 fully vaccinated people will be able to grab a drink indoors at pubs and clubs

• All students will be able to return to the classroom at least part-time. Years 7, 11, and 12 can attend all week, prep from Monday to Wednesday, and all other years two set days per week.

Premier Daniel Andrews said there was “no alternative” to opening up. He flagged the “acute stress” it would place on the health system as he announced the state’s highly-anticipated road map to start up on Sunday.

“There is a gateway here, it will be challenging, but we must pass through it. We cannot have a perpetual suppression of this virus,” he said.

“It will be very hard on our amazing nurses and doctors and ambos and the whole team in our hospitals.”

Read related topics: Melbourne

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