Echuca-Moama’s border bubble bursts

By Brayden May

ECHUCA-MOAMA'S "border bubble" has burst.

Twin towns residents can no longer travel between Echuca or Moama for "everyday life" after the NSW Government tightened its border restrictions from 12.01am today.

“Border zone residents with a permit will only be able to cross into the other side of the NSW-Victorian border zone to go to work or attend an education institution if they can't work or learn from home, or to obtain medical care, supplies or health services,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.

People in Bamawm, Bunnaloo, Gunbower, Kyabram, Leitchville, Lockington and Torrumbarry are not eligible for cross-border permits.

But people living in Echuca-Moama, Cohuna, Barham, Barmah, Koondrook and Patho are.

Murray River Council mayor Chris Bilkey said there were more questions than answers.

“I can understand just how frustrating it is for people when the finer details of the restrictions haven't been announced,” he said.

“The implications for Moama are significantly tighter than they previously were. There will be a lot of inconvenience caused and it could cause a lot of trouble for businesses.

“We've had people call with a lot of different questions and we're hoping to get some answers as soon as possible.”

Mr Bilkey said Mathoura people also faced significant upheaval to their daily lives.

According to the NSW Government's website, some people living in Mathoura are eligible for the cross-border permits but others are not.

“A lot of people do travel to Echuca to do things including their shopping, but we're fortunate there is a supermarket in Moama,” he said.

“The implications on Mathoura are probably far greater than they are on Moama which is very concerning.

“Residents may have to focus their social activities towards Deniliquin.”

According to the NSW Government website a border zone resident who lives in Victoria:

  • is authorised to enter and remain in NSW only for work, education or medical or health care;
  • must not travel to any part of NSW that is outside of the border zone; and
  • must not enter NSW if they have travelled in Victoria outside the border zone within the previous 14 days.

While a border zone resident who is a NSW resident must self-isolate if they:

  • travel within Victoria outside the border zone before re-entering NSW using the permit; or
  • entered Victoria other than for work, education or medical or health care.

Campaspe Shire Council chief executive Declan Moore said he understood why restrictions had been tightened.

“We recognise the need to suppress, and hopefully eradicate the virus, and the tightened restrictions announced by the NSW Government focus on further restricting entry into Victoria for NSW border residents,” Mr Moore said.

“There are a range of border issues being faced by all members of our local community and we would encourage the community to become familiar with the changes, and apply for a new permit if travel is within the new parameters.

“We appreciate the unprecedented nature of what is happening COVID-wise within Victoria.

“While the majority of cases are in metropolitan Melbourne, we all need to remain vigilant to ensure live cases in our rural areas remain low, or better still, at zero.”

People providing a critical service including freight, transport or logistics, maintenance and repair of critical infrastructure, medical or hospital care, mining, agriculture, construction, energy or manufacturing and Commonwealth defence and security services must self-isolate when not providing their service.

The NSW Government was asked to confirm the distance of the border zone from the Echuca-Moama bridge but did not do so in time for publication.

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