12 October 2021

NSW / ACT border bubble residents now exempt from stay-at-home orders

| Lottie Twyford
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Sign welcoming people to Queanbeyan

Border bubble residents will have greater freedom of movement thanks to late-night changes from NSW Health. Photo: File.

NSW residents who enter the ACT for essential reasons such as work or medical care will no longer be required to complete a declaration and comply with 14-days stay-at-home orders upon returning home.

It’s an exemption that will largely only affect border bubble residents who already have a standing exemption to enter the ACT without needing to quarantine.

The change was made late last night and Monaro MP John Barilaro quickly issued a post to confirm it, saying that “common sense prevails”.

Unfortunately, some confusion ensued because an initial post stated that nobody travelling from the ACT would be required to fill in a declaration nor undergo stay-at-home orders.

This is incorrect.

According to the NSW Health website, only “NSW residents who have been in the ACT for work, to receive medical care, or to accompany someone receiving treatment” are exempt from the declaration and stay-at-home requirements.

The site reads that “everyone else entering NSW after being in the ACT will need to complete a declaration and follow the stay at home rules”. This applies to both NSW and ACT residents.

Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain has also said that entering the ACT for school would be counted as an essential reason, and people who did so will also be exempt from these requirements.

Speaking this morning on ABC Radio, the NSW Cross Border Commissioner James McTavish said any NSW residents who entered the ACT for non-essential reasons would still be required to complete a declaration and abide by the stay-at-home orders upon returning home.

It’s also worth noting that anyone who lives beyond the current approved ‘border bubble’ postcodes will not be able to enter the ACT at all unless given an exemption by ACT Health.

At this stage, all of NSW remains a COVID-affected area under ACT public health orders, so anyone who enters the ACT from beyond the approved postcodes will need to complete an exemption form within 72 hours before arrival in the ACT and quarantine immediately for 14 days.

Mr McTavish did acknowledge that making announcements late at night did make accessing the correct information difficult for the general public.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has already said Canberrans should not yet be travelling to a pub in Queanbeyan for a pint or a winery in Murrumbateman for lunch as this is not an essential reason to cross the border.

READ ALSO Queanbeyan tastes the first day of ‘freedom’

While Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said she welcomed the announcement from NSW as a relief for NSW border residents who are required to travel across the border every day for work, she was looking forward to more clarification as to how ACT residents would be treated by the jurisdiction when the ACT comes out of lockdown on Friday.

She reiterated that the ACT would look to begin expanding the border bubble in the next few weeks, but a significant easing of travel restrictions will not be taking place until November and December at least.

Ms Stephen-Smith repeated the comments of the Chief Minister over the weekend that interstate travel will also be dependent on the decisions of the Victorian and NSW Governments.

“Part of the reason we are taking this gradual pathway out of lockdown is so that by Christmas, we are able to have that extra level of freedom,” she said.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman and Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith are expected to provide an update today at the 11:45 am press conference on what life will look like in the ACT from Friday when greater freedoms are expected for ACT residents.

In the next few days, an announcement will also be made regarding what the test, trace, isolate, quarantine system will look like and how it will operate once the ACT comes out of lockdown.

Original Article published by Lottie Twyford on The RiotACT.

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