A new Victorian government permit was to bring "clarity" to those seeking to enter the state, but advice given to one Melbourne couple stranded in Albury has been anything but clear.
Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a new "traffic light" permit and changed the status of regional NSW from "red" to "orange" from 6pm.
Since January 1, all of NSW has been considered a "red zone", however exceptions have been made for Victorians coming home who transited through NSW, stopping in areas that had been considered "green".
Now only Sydney and other red zones are completely shut out from Victoria.
"People from Victoria who want to travel home from those [orange and green] areas ... will be able to do so," Mr Andrews said yesterday afternoon.
It was welcome news to Carly Wladkowski and Michael Kent, who have spent two days at the Mantra in Albury while awaiting their exemption approval.
The couple contacted DHHS last week ahead of the funeral of Mr Kent's father in Albury on Saturday.
"My husband made contact with DHHS once the border was closed and we'd been in constant contact with them up until leaving, which was on Friday," Mrs Wladkowski said.
"We had five or six days of conflicting conversations, and my husband was getting quite frustrated he potentially wouldn't be able to go to his own father's funeral.
"They escalated the case, and gave us a reference number.
"We were advised we would have a very good chance of returning home to Melbourne if we underwent a COVID test in Albury.
"The funeral was Saturday, on Sunday we had the test and we self-isolated the full day.
"Our tests were negative, and we were in contact with DHHS multiple times throughout the day."
The couple were given no indication of when they would be granted an exemption.
They were given no written correspondence, with exemptions originally having to be done through the coronavirus hotline, and a request by DHHS not to apply online due to multiple cases assigned to them.
"A gentleman last night said our case was deleted," Mrs Wladkowski said on Monday morning.
"The people on the phone line are doing their best - it's challenging for them, it's challenging for us - it's a broken system that is trapping a lot of people on the border that don't really need to be here and don't need to be creating an extra risk.
"My husband is self-employed and he's taken a significant amount of time off to make sure his mum is OK and to help his father through palliative care.
"It's challenging enough ... we need to get home."
At the Lavington testing clinic on Sunday, the couple, who grew up in Albury, met many people who were also stuck in NSW.
"They were given different advice - someone was in Queensland and decided to come home, and were told they just had to show a negative result, which was completely different to what we've been told. Some were told they'd be waiting up to two weeks," Mrs Wladkowski said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
The couple appeared to be cleared from quarantine by the Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton during the announcement.
"For those individuals who've been in what's been rural or regional NSW as a red zone, turning into an orange zone, yes they will be free to leave quarantine," he said.
DHHS also advised the couple they could leave the hotel and apply for a permit to travel, when they were available.
Mrs Wladkowski said she was very relieved at Monday's developments and they would seek to return to Melbourne tonight.