Why has the border been shut again?
On Thursday, the Victorian government announced it would be closing its border with NSW 'entirely'.
It came two weeks after Victoria had introduced a permit system in response to a growing COVID-19 cluster in the Sydney's Northern Beaches.
The cluster has since spread to parts of Sydney and Illawarra, with more cases of COVID-19 appearing in Victoria.
Acting Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan said Victoria must protect the 'precious gains' of 2020 and not allow the virus to spread into their state.
Anyone living in NSW requires a permit to enter Victoria - apart from residents who live in the border bubble.
Residents who live in the border bubble can freely cross the border by showing their driver's licence.
What is the border bubble? Do I live in it?
The 'border bubble' covers Local Government Areas along the Murray River in NSW and Victoria, as well as parts of central Victorian and the Riverina.
Currently, the NSW border zone includes Albury City, Balranald, Bega Valley, Berrigan, Broken Hill, Edward River, Federation, Greater Hume, Hay, Lockhart, Murray River, Murrumbidgee, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys, Wagga Wagga, Wentworth.
The Victorian border bubble includes Alpine Valleys, Benalla, Bendigo, Buloke, Campaspe, East Gippsland, Gannawarra, Indigo, Loddon, Mildura, Moira, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Towong, Wangaratta, Wodonga, Yarriambiack.
Residents within the border bubble do not need a permit to cross the border, they just need to show their driver's licence.
IN OTHER NEWS:
I live in the NSW side of the border bubble, can I travel outside the bubble in NSW?
Yes, NSW residents who live within the border bubble are able to leave the bubble and travel further into NSW.
However, once they travel outside the border bubble in NSW, they are not able to cross into Victoria for 14 days.
Residents who have travelled beyond the border bubble into NSW, will be turned away at the border to Victoria even if they live within the bubble.
I live in the NSW side of the border bubble, can I travel outside the bubble in Victoria?
Yes, after much confusion, the Victorian government finally confirmed NSW border bubble residents are free to travel throughout Victoria.
The latest orders, signed by Victoria's deputy chief health officer Clare Looker, confirm residents of the border bubble in southern NSW can travel to Melbourne or other parts of regional Victoria as long as they have not been outside the bubble since December 31 or travelled to COVID hot spots.
I live in the Victorian side of the border bubble, can I travel outside the bubble in Victoria?
Yes, as long as Victorian border residents have not travelled outside the NSW border bubble boundary or visited a COVID hot spot they are free to travel throughout Victoria.
I live in the Victorian side of the border bubble, can I travel outside the bubble in NSW?
Technically yes, but once a Victorian or NSW residents travels beyond the NSW border bubble boundary, they cannot re-enter Victoria within 14 days of leaving the bubble.
If a resident of the Victorian border bubble travels beyond the NSW bubble boundary, they will be turned away at the Victorian border and unable to return home until they have spent 14 days within the bubble.
Do I need a permit to cross the border?
If you resident in any of the Local Government Areas within the border bubble, you do not need a permit to cross the border, you simply need to show police your driver's licence or another form or valid ID to prove your residential address.
The Victorian government advises a person is not required to apply for a Victorian Border Crossing Permit to enter Victoria from New South Wales if they:
- live in one of the local government areas identified as exempt from carrying a permit
- are providing or receiving emergency medical care
- are providing or receiving emergency services (Fire, Police, State Emergency Services)
- are a school student travelling on a bus
- reside on a property that extends across both New South Wales and Victoria
- are escaping harm or the risk of harm, including harm relating to family violence or violence of another person. If you are stopped by police, tell them you are feeling unsafe at home and they will help you
What if I need to cross the border for work?
NSW residents of the border bubble are free to cross the border for work, as long as they do not travel beyond the NSW bubble zone.
If they travel beyond or live outside the bubble they must apply for a border entry permit.
The Victorian government said from 11.59pm on Sunday people travelling to Victoria for work could apply for a permit provided they work in agriculture, commercial freight services or essential services.
Essential service means any of the following services - transport; fuel; light; power; water; sewerage; any service specified from time to time by order of the Governor in Council published in the Government Gazette.
When will the border reopen?
To put it simply - no one knows, or at least no one is saying anything concrete on the matter.
Acting Premier Jacinta Allan has stated state authorities want Victoria to get back to days of zero new cases before checkpoints are removed.
COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar has also warned stranded Victorians that if they need to make it back into Victoria before the end of January they should be applying for exemptions now, implying the border will not reopen before then.
Albury mayor Kevin Mack believes the border will remain closed until the end of February, but has not been given any official indication of when the checkpoints may be removed.