The NSW-Victorian border bubble has re-opened just in time for the school holidays, opening up travel and potential visitors for border communities.
This latest development came out of an announcement made by Victorian Government, that all NSW Local Government Areas in the cross-border community (except the city of Albury) were being changed from Extreme Risk Zones to Red Zones on September 19.
This meant that people living in cross-border communities that haven't been to an Extreme Risk Zone in the last 14 days could cross the border freely without a permit, needing only to present photo ID.
Eden Monaro MP Kristy McBain said she was very glad the Victorian Government has reinstated the border bubble and downgraded many regional NSW LGAs from Extreme Risk to Red Zones.
"People from Victorian border communities will be able to travel here to holiday, which could be a much needed boost for local businesses that have been doing it particularly tough," Ms McBain said.
Ms McBain said the border bubble will help reunite families and loved ones who haven't seen each other in months.
"I also know there were some people who have been staying at local caravan parks here in the Bega Valley for months, as they had been locked out of Victoria, so they too will be able to return home," she said.
With the border re-opening and more movement and travel on the horizon, Ms McBain said it remains of the utmost importance that people continue to follow the health advice.
"Our businesses have their COVID-safe plans in place, but everyone has their part to play to keep us safe," she said.
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Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Russell Fitzpatrick said he welcomes the border bubble set in place by Victorian and NSW Governments.
"The border bubble allows movement between the Bega Valley and East Gippsland Shires without a permit being required while we are now not classified as extreme zone," Cr Fitzpatrick said.
"I welcome school holiday visitors from East Gippsland to the Bega Valley."
Merimbula Tourism manager Chris Nicholls said the border bubble may also give businesses and people in the Bega Valley the opportunity to invite and attract regional Victorians to visit.
"The situations is improving because there there is an ability to move across borders and that means there's the potential for us to start receiving visitors from the border bubble communities and visit Victoria as well," Mr Nicholls said.
Mr Nicholls said they had been caught unawares by the sudden lockdown restrictions being lifted and had to quickly get things ready to be "all systems go" and attract visitors again.
"We were expecting lockdowns to go on, but it didn't, and that means that a lot of things we would have put in place if we'd known, we've only been able to put into place now," he said.
Mr Nicholls said this is a time for the whole community to stand strong together, practice the health guidelines and look out for each other.
"We vaccinate we take care of each other and, and it won't be long before we'll be a bit more smoother waters," he said.
As specifics on regulations and restrictions change between different state Governments, it is worthwhile visiting both state Government websites to verify the details and specifics for cross-border travel.
The Victorian Government said any person who has recently been to a current Extreme Risk Zone is required to obtain a Cross-Border Community Extreme Risk Zone permit and will only be able to cross if they could provide one of the permitted reasons.
Eden Monaro MP, Kristy McBain said people need to keep checking in, follow the rules on gatherings sizes, wear masks and more importantly get tested if they notice any symptoms.
"In the Bega Valley we have over 80% of people over 16 who have received their first vaccine dose which is a great figure. But if anyone out there hasn't yet booked in or is hesitant and wants more information, I suggest getting in touch with a local GP," she said.