Agriculture worker permits have been reinstated on the eve of the region's premier cattle sales beginning on Tuesday at the Northern Victoria Livestock Exchange.
The Wodonga weaner sales to be held for four successive days under a revised format this year threatened to be off-limits to agents, buyers and other farmers from outside the border bubble in NSW when the Victorian government announced a harder border closure on New Year's Eve.
But within 24 hours of the opening day of the sales, the Victorian government announced agricultural permits, which had been introduced earlier in the pandemic last year, were coming back and could be applied for immediately at service.vic.gov.au
This permit system is consistent with the National Agriculture Workers' Code endorsed by National Cabinet in September and permitted agriculture workers entering Victoria must wear a face mask in all public places, get regularly tested for coronavirus, self-quarantine when not working and only leave their accommodation for takeaway food or drink, bathroom stops, medical care, to obtain a coronavirus test or in an emergency.
Albury-Wodonga Stock Agents Association president Peter Ruaro said the return of permits was a big relief.
"This week is a big event on the local agricultural calendar and to have the permits back for people who really need to be here is a big relief," he said.
Around 15,000 cattle will be sold locally this week.
The return of permits opens up the sales to NSW-based regulars outside of the border bubble.
Meanwhile, Victorian farmers and agriculture workers living outside the border bubble and re-entering Victoria after conducting work in NSW will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return and get tested for coronavirus twice.
"Many of our agriculture workers need to cross the border to perform their vital work and these permits will allow that to happen while keeping our state safe," Victorian Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said.