One Macca’s stop on strict journey home
ACT residents who have been waiting to get home from Victoria have been given a "brief window of opportunity" on a specific route mapped out by authorities.
Permits for transiting through NSW expired last Friday and dozens of Canberrans were caught off-guard and turned around by border police, with some people since sleeping in their cars.
But as a result of changes to border orders, ACT residents have been permitted to drive home by road from Victoria over a five-day period between 9am and 3pm from Thursday, August 13 until Monday, August 17, NSW Health said in a statement on Wednesday.
ACT Health said the NSW Government was allowing residents with an Entry Authorisation Certificate - available via an online notification process and issued by the ACT Chief Health Officer - to cross the border at Wodonga from 9am each day.
Residents must travel "directly to the ACT along the Hume Highway" and arrive at the ACT Health/ACT Police reception centre in Hall by 3pm that same day.
The drive takes up to four-and-a-half hours.
"You may stop at Gundagai McDonald's at 143 Mount Street (extra cleaning staff are on site)," ACT Health said in a statement.
"They must refuel in Victoria and ensure that their vehicle has sufficient petrol to travel to the ACT without refuelling.
"When they reach the ACT, they will need to attend the ACT Government's reception centre, off the Barton Highway at Victoria St, Hall.
"Signage will be there to guide travellers. ACT and NSW Policing will be in attendance to ensure residents have arrived safely and to offer any support needed. They will then be able to proceed directly to their place of residence for their period of quarantine."
Once they make it through New South Wales and into the ACT, residents are not permitted to re-enter NSW for at least 14 days.
ACT residents with an Entry Authorisation Certificate issued by the ACT Chief Health Officer can cross the border at Wodonga at 9am each day from 13–17 August inclusive. They must arrive in Hall by no later than 3pm on the same day. More information at https://t.co/EMp8mORj0v pic.twitter.com/DbokNr8ru6— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) August 12, 2020
NSW Health said ACT residents must travel through the state "by the route designated by the Commissioner of Police without stopping except for fatigue or hygiene breaks at designated safe locations".
They must also maintain physical distance from anyone who is not a travel companion.
Anyone who breaches the border amendment order faces a $5000 on-the-spot fine.
The five-day road travel period ends on Monday, August 17.
From that day, all ACT residents wishing to enter from Victoria must do so by air.
None will be allowed through the border by road and the ACT Government says it will not issue any exemptions to drive to the ACT while the NSW-Victoria border remains closed.
There were 410 new cases of COVID-19 announced in Victoria on Monday, 18 in NSW and none in the ACT where there are no active cases.
PEOPLE SLEEPING IN THEIR CARS
Stranded Canberran Anne Cahill Lambert told The Project on Tuesday night her husband, who is a doctor, had been working locum in a hospital in northeast Victoria "helping out with the pandemic".
"He finished, I applied for the necessary permits including the most important one which was a transit permit through New South Wales, we were approved to travel on Friday and we got to the border and we were told that the rules had changed, unfortunately," she said.
"So, the idea was that we would turn back. I stayed there for about five hours trying to negotiate with NSW, but unfortunately got nowhere."
The couple returned to the small Victorian town of Benalla with their dog Honey until a solution was reached.
Ms Cahill Lambert told the program she was looking out at the Hume Highway "longingly".
"We're holding up pretty well. We are better than a lot of the people because we're back in Benalla, which is a lovely town, and we do enjoy being here," she said.
"But there are people sleeping in their cars. There is a bloke who couldn't stay in Wodonga because the motels wouldn't have him because the day of his travel, his postcode was Melbourne and they didn't want any Melbourne people.
"He is moving to Canberra to take up a job in a hospital, oddly enough. This is all so ironic."
She said they were told to go to Melbourne - "the epicentre of this pandemic" - and catch a plane to Sydney, stay there for 14 days in quarantine and then head back to the ACT.
"I asked about what we would do with our cars and our gorgeous little 11-year-old puppy dog and that wasn't an issue for anyone other than me," she said.
For those in need of assistance, the ACT Government's COVID-19 helpline is (02) 6207 7244 and is available between 8am and 8pm daily.
Originally published as One Macca's stop on strict journey home