NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced an easing of border restrictions for residents along the Victorian border, which will come into place from Friday. .
Speaking to media from Albury on Tuesday, Ms Berejiklian said the most significant restriction to be eased is the expansion of the border bubble zone, which is currently at a 2.5km radius.
From Friday morning, the bubble will be increased to a 50km radius, meaning any resident living within the bubble will be able to obtain a border resident permit into NSW. This revised permit will allow them to travel across the border from Victoria for school, work, to obtain goods and access certain services.
Ms Berejiklian said the new permits follow “raised concerns” from locals about the current restrictions in place, and says the extended bubble will “make life much easier” for residents on either side of the border.
“We thank the community for your patience during what has been an extremely difficult time,” she said on Tuesday.
“Hand on heart … one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made personally and the Government’s made during this pandemic has been closing the New South Wales-Victorian border. It was a decision of last resort.
“The decision of the government and my decision was coming from a place of good intention and…we won’t leave the border closed for a day longer than we need to.”
The current restrictions, which have been in place for eight weeks, will mean residents living within the 50km radius needing to cross the border for care and compassionate reasons will be permitted to do so, along with residents who need to travel for work and study.
Permits will also be available to border community residents who need to obtain necessary goods and services in NSW, however, residents will only be able to cross state lines for the reasons listed on their permit.
Her comments come as Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the restrictions for the agricultural sector across the border between NSW and Victoria meant many were facing financial ruin.
Mr Barilaro said the situation was “at the 11th hour” for producers across NSW, who needed an adequate workforce for the fast approaching harvest season around the Albury-Wodonga region.
Agriculture Minister Adam Wallace said the current situation was unworkable and would further harm primary producers, who are still working to recover from the drought.
“Our farmers have had a gutful of these senseless border restrictions and so have I,” he said.
“As Agriculture Minister I am not going to stand by quietly while our primary producers face failed crops and animal welfare disasters due to well-meaning but impractical road blocks.”
An Agricultural Workers Code will be presented and considered at the next meeting of National Cabinet on Friday, and at a meeting of Agriculture Ministers on Tuesday.
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Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has hit back at critics regarding her border restrictions with NSW, saying there’s no chance she will reopen while community transmission is still happening in Sydney.
Speaking to media from Cairns on Tuesday, Ms Palaszczuk said her job was to keep Queenslanders safe – and that meant standing by border closures throughout September.
“Queensland will continue to have our borders closed to keep Queenslanders safe,” she said on Monday.
“I’m not going to be moved on this. So the Federal Government can throw whoever they want at that, we can have Clive Palmer as well, but I’m not going to be moved because fundamentally the health of Queenslanders is my number one concern.”