Permit change brings relief in Echuca-Moama

By Anna McGuinness

THE reasons for travel across the Echuca-Moama border changed again on Monday.

The NSW Government amended the permitted uses for border zone permits to allow people to provide or receive care or assistance for a vulnerable person including for personal care, mental health, domestic violence services and services for crime victims.

Previously, the permit had only allowed travel across the NSW-Victoria border for work, education or to obtain medical care or supplies.

People who intend to cross the border for the new reason will have to apply for an updated border zone permit on the Service NSW website.

Committee for Echuca Moama chairperson Geoff Kelly said it was good to see some positive changes, however more needed to be done.

“What we need them to do is reconsider the bubble, if we went back to where we were before with the 50 km (zone), I think everybody would be comfortable with that,” he said.

“If people have to get across the border for work, they should be entitled to do that.

“The other one is the nonsense with the river being shut, particularly for the commercial boat operators, they're embarking and disembarking passengers on the Victorian side and yet they're not allowed to operate because it's considered over the NSW border.”

NSW Member for Murray Helen Dalton said the change was a start, but not nearly enough.

“Every day I’ve been pleading with the NSW Government to ease restrictions, and we slowly get concessions,” she said.

“The border zone is extremely narrow, so many families miss out on this care provision.

“If someone from Moama can provide urgent care for their 80-year-old mother, why can’t someone from say Deniliquin?

“These cruel, ruthless rules are creating two classes of citizens. It’s only a matter of time before someone dies,” she said.

“The only sensible solution is to widen the border zone.”

Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said the latest permit change to better protect vulnerable people was an urgent, and commonsense, adjustment.

He said the NSW Government was working as fast as it could to iron out cross-border issues.

“It must be facing a deluge of applications — I believe it is already more than 200,000,” Mr Walsh said.

An update to the COVID-19 border control public health order has allowed pregnant Moama mother Jean Haynes to access critical medical care in Bendigo.

After the Riverine Herald reported on Jean Haynes, who suffers from multiple health issues and is pregnant with her sixth child, the NSW Government yesterday changed its advice in relation to self-isolation.

Mrs Haynes was initially told she would have to self-isolate for 14 days every time she visited Bendigo for specialist care, which was impossible considering she is 14 weeks into a complex pregnancy which requires weekly to fortnightly specialist monitoring.

The public health order now states a NSW resident re-entering the state after entering Victoria for medical or hospital services except in emergency situations will not be required to self-isolate if certain conditions are met.

The change in advice means Mrs Haynes will no longer have to isolate as long as she provides a copy of the new health order and letter from her doctor at the border.

“This has been a huge relief as without this exemption my health and that of my unborn baby was at risk,” she said.

“I thank the Riverine Herald for their help and the NSW Government for granting this exemption.”

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