Borders slowly begin to reopen to Victorians

Sarah Luke

THE rest of Australia is cautiously reopening its borders to Victoria, as the state recorded its sixth consecutive day of no new COVID-19 cases or deaths on Thursday – a feat that hasn’t been achieved since February.

On Wednesday, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced quarantine-free travel to and from Victoria from November 23.

The NSW Premier said “unless there is something very extraordinary that occurs” the government will not change the date, giving families the confidence to book in interstate travel for the Christmas holidays.

The Northern Territory officially opened its borders to regional Victorians on Monday.

Regional Victorians will no longer have to quarantine for two weeks if they choose to travel to the territory, but they will have to travel by plane as border control measures still prevent them from travelling through South Australia or Queensland.

Melburnians will have to wait a little longer to travel up north, with the NT now only excluding Melbourne residents from crossing its borders.

Earlier this week, Western Australia announced it will remove its hard border, allowing interstate travellers in from November 14.

Very low risk states and territories, which have no community cases in 28 days, are allowed into WA without quarantining, but NSW and Victoria are considered low risk (provided they record a 14-day rolling average of less than five community transmission cases per day), and travellers must self-quarantine for 14 days and be subject to COVID testing.

At the time the Gippsland Times went to print on Thurdsay, Victoria’s 14-day average was at 1.4 – well below the threshold for the ‘low risk’ category.

On Tuesday, South Australia Premier Steven Marshall said he hoped the border ban with Victoria could be lifted within a fortnight, but added anyone travelling from Victoria would still have to self-isolate for a fortnight on arrival.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged he would like to see all internal borders reopened by Christmas.

At the time of print, there were 38 reported active cases in Victoria. Regional Victoria has not had an active case since October 28, after two cases in Shepparton recovered.

Wellington Shire has not recorded an active case since September 5.