It's official, 71 days after the NSW-Victorian border first closed and 51 days since the NSW government removed the daily life clause, border residents are free to move again.
Late on Wednesday night, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard approved the latest amendments to the Public Health Order which not only expand the 'border bubble' but allow border residents to cross the border for any reason.
Permits are still required.
I'm a border zone resident, can I cross the border to see friends, go shopping or eat out?
Yes, border zone residents can now cross the border and travel within the border bubble for any reason, be it shopping, visiting friends or eating out.
The latest amendment to the Public Health Order means border residents are no longer restricted to crossing the border for the 'four reasons' of education or work, care, to move home or to obtain necessary goods or services.
Border zone residents do still need to obtain a border entry permit and cross through checkpoints.
How do I know if I'm a border zone resident?
The NSW government has released a detailed map of the new border zone which has expanded to include Victorian towns such as Bright and Mount Beauty, as well as NSW towns such as Lockhart and Boree Creek.
If you are unsure if your town is included, you can search for your address on Service NSW.
How do I get a permit? Do I need a new permit if I already had a border resident permit?
If you already have a current border entry permit, you do not need to apply for a new one.
The new rules automatically apply to your previous permit, as long as it has not expired, so you can now use that permit to cross the border for any reason.
To obtain a border entry permit, you need to apply via Service NSW.
IN OTHER NEWS:
I'm a border zone resident can I travel beyond the border in my own state?
Yes, however if you travel to certain areas you may not then be able to cross the border.
Under step three of the Victorian government's road map to recovery, regional Victorians can now travel unrestricted across the state, so long as they do not enter a COVID hotspot like Melbourne.
However, the newly gazetted order does not mention any restrictions on Victorian border residents who travel beyond the border bubble to COVID-free areas in their own state.
Previously the Public Health Order specified Victorian border residents who had travelled anywhere outside the bubble in the past 14 days could not cross the border, but this line is not in the latest release.
So it appears, for now at least, Wodonga residents can travel beyond the bubble to places like Bendigo, which are not areas of concerns, and when they return can cross into Albury.
NSW border residents are free to travel beyond the border in their own state. For example an Albury resident could travel to Wagga and still be eligible to cross the border.
I'm a border zone resident can I travel beyond the border in the other state?
No, a NSW border resident is not allowed to travel beyond the border bubble in Victoria, and a Victorian border resident cannot travel beyond the bubble in NSW.
Under the Public Health Order a Victorian border region resident "must not travel to part of NSW that is outside the border region", and a NSW border region resident must not reenter into NSW if they have been to a part of Victoria outside the border bubble in the past 14 days.
This means a Wodonga resident on a border resident permit is not allowed to travel to Wagga. If they were to do so they would be in breach of their border crossing permit and could be fined.
Similarly, an Albury resident who crosses the border and travels to Bendigo will not be able to cross back into NSW without flying to Sydney and isolating.
I'm a NSW border zone resident, can I visit a friend's home in Victoria?
Yes, but under step-three restrictions in regional Victoria, your friend is only allowed to create a 'household bubble' with one person.
If you visit and create the bubble with your friend, they are not allowed any other visitors to their home during step three.
You can however meet your friends at a cafe or restaurant without creating a household bubble.