Residents living on the NSW-Victorian border will now be able to move freely within the cross-river border regions, Health Minister Brad Hazzard confirmed on Thursday.
The changes come after the Victorian government eased restrictions for people living in regional parts of the state.
“I want to thank the border communities for their patience – we are able to ease restrictions on the border given the reduced risk of COVID-19 transmission in regional Victoria,” Mr Hazzard said.
As part of the changes, which come into force on Thursday, the border region will also be expanded to include some areas around Pleasant Hills, Lockhart, Benalla, Bright and Mount Beauty.
The Health Minister said anyone with an existing border region permit will “be able to take advantage of these changes”.
“NSW-Victoria border communities have been extremely resilient during this one-in-100 year pandemic as we continue to fight the challenges of COVID-19,” Mr Hazzard said.
Member for Albury Justin Clancy said communities are deserving of not just respite, but recovery.
“Having been separated for a number of weeks now, as communities that straddle the mighty Murray, we can talk of moving forward together,” he said.
A statement from the NSW government said Victorian residents would no longer be obliged to comply with the stay-at-home directions imposed in regional Victoria while in NSW, or be restricted to only entering NSW for a “permitted purpose”.
During Wednesday’s media address NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian hinted at amending public health orders to allow Victorians living near the border to more easily cross the river.
“Now restrictions have been eased in regional Victoria, we are similarly doing that for our border communities to have consistency,” she said.
“So, whatever you can do in regional Victoria you can do in those border communities.
“We’re also increasing the number of towns, I think around Shepparton, that will be included in the border community and we will provide hundreds of exemptions for sheerer and harvesters to make sure critical ag workers are getting across the border.”
NSW recorded 10 new cases on Wednesday.