The Benalla mayor has welcomed the expansion of the Victorian border bubble, after his council was previously excluded in a "nightmare" situation.
From midnight last night the Victorian local government areas of Benalla, Greater Bendigo, Buloke, Loddon and Yarriambiack were included in the cross-border region, while in NSW Hay, Edward River, Lockhart, Murrumbidgee and Wagga also returned to the bubble.
People in these areas can now cross into Victoria without a permit as long as they've stayed within the bubble in the last 14 days.
Benalla mayor Danny Claridge said it was a huge relief.
'There's been a lot of misinformation about what the bubble meant," he said.
"It was just a nightmare, to tell you the truth.
IN OTHER NEWS:
"It's been really difficult, so this makes it much clearer.
"We're back to where we were before, which is where I think we belong, back in the bubble."
Cr Claridge said community members would be keen to make use of their freedom to travel across the border.
"From what I've heard most of it is for medical reasons or for care giving," he said.
"There's a lot of people who live in the Benalla LGA who have relatives ... in NSW. We're not that far away, so it's been difficult for them to be so close and yet not allowed to go and visit."
The news came as Victoria Police announced they will gradually remove the Victoria-NSW border checkpoints before the border operation officially ends on Tuesday.
Victoria Police checkpoints on major crossings between Albury and Wodonga were removed and traffic management staff began collecting infrastructure yesterday.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said local police would still patrol the border bubble areas as needed, but the specially assigned police resources would be sent back to Melbourne for other work.
"Due to updated health advice, Victoria Police will be scaling back its enforcement at the NSW state border," she said.
"The police presence will gradually reduce over the next few days.
"As of Tuesday, the dedicated border operation with more than 300 police will come to an end."
The spokeswoman said from that point onwards Victoria Police would use its local resources to patrol the border to ensure ongoing compliance with the permit conditions.
"One hundred police resources originally earmarked to work at the state border will be redeployed to Operation Guardian to patrol the metro regional border," the spokeswoman said.
"The remaining 200 resources will return to their original place of work or to assist with COVID-19 enforcement operations."
Member for Benambra Bill Tilley said it was a massive win for border communities and Victoria Police alike.
"On Wednesday in Question Time the Health Minister told the Parliament they were hog-tied to the National Plan and the police were here to stay," he said.
"Fast forward and they are on their way home, which is a massive win for common sense, removes the political bastardry that left them here for so long and gives us some slight relaxation."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: