New rules for border communities as restrictions tighten

New rules for border communities as restrictions tighten

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FROM 12.01am Wednesday morning, borders crossings along the Vic border will change again, with further restrictions to all residents, including those living in cross-border communities.

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FROM 12.01am Wednesday morning, borders crossings along the Vic border will change again, with further restrictions to all residents, including those living in cross-border communities.

Among the latest changes, only essential travellers will be able to enter SA from Vic, while SA residents will no longer be able to return home from Vic.

While previously the cross border community member rules applied to people living within 50 kilometres of the Vic/SA border, the latest direction limits this to those withing 40km of the border.

Information from SA Police says cross border community members can only move between SA and Vic for the purposes of employment or education; providing or receiving care and support; and accessing food, fuel, supplies or medical care.

A Victorian cross-border community member must not travel more than 40km into SA while any SA residents that travels more than 40km into Vic but complete 14 days quarantine upon returning to SA.

Among the changes, this means cross-border community members will no longer be able to travel between Portland, Vic, and SA.

MacKillop MP Nick McBride had a number of people calling through to his office, seeking information about the tougher restrictions.

He said he was fully supportive of the need for these stricter border controls, but acknowledged it was a challenging time, particularly for those living in the South East.

"I understand Cross Border Community Members will largely not be impacted by these changes and will still be able to travel into both SA and Vic," he said.

"However, I am aware the change in distance that they are allowed to travel (from 50 km to 40km) has caused some concern.

"I am pleased to see that the new direction includes provisions for agriculture and other primary industries as well as seasonal workers (including shearers and forestry workers) and will clarify arrangements enable them to carry out cross border work."

Mr McBride said his focus has been on protecting the local communities while also enabling the essential day-to-day work of these important sectors to continue.

"I have advocated for these changes, with my focus being on protecting our communities, while also enabling the essential day to day work of these important sectors to continue."

"I am aware that the changes to the travel direction impact South Australian families who have children attending schools in Vic," he said.

"This is obviously concerning for these families and I am keen to see an outcome that does not impact on either their schooling or their ability to be with their loved ones."

In other moves to protect these cross-border community members, the SA government has expanded its wastewater testing for COVID-19 into Mount Gambier.

Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade said this testing was in response to the increased Vic COVID threat, while record numbers of tests have been conducted in SA in the past week.

"Launching wastewater testing near the Victorian border at Mount Gambier to actively monitor the underlying level of COVID-19 in the community is another part of the government's strong plan to protect South Australians from the spread of the disease," he said.

Three mobile testing clinics have also recently been set up at key border crossings at Bordertown, Mount Gambier and Yamba to further strengthen SA Pathology's already robust response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The vans are specifically for South Australians entering the state from Vic and are not available for routine swabbing of individuals living locally.

Department for Health and Wellbeing principal water Quality Adviser, Dr David Cunliffe, said wastewater testing is ongoing at SA Water's Bolivar, Christies Beach, Glenelg, Port Lincoln and Angaston wastewater treatment plants.

"SA is contributing to a major national project coordinated by Water Research Australia identifying innovative ways to test and monitor for COVID-19 and SA Health and SA Water worked quickly to develop an appropriate method to detect the virus in wastewater," Dr Cunliffe said.

"We detected low-level positives in samples collected and stored from two metropolitan treatment plants from when there were significantly more local cases earlier this year.

"We also detected low-levels of COVID-19 in one of our quarantine facilities when we knew three positive cases were isolating there.

"In the last two weeks, SA Water has used these samples to validate the method, giving us confidence in the accuracy of our results.

"We are now looking to expand the water sampling to other regional areas and places where we might expect more tourists and other interstate travellers."

The state government has also acted to amend the Emergency Management Act to insert a maximum penalty of up to two years imprisonment for people defying the border restrictions.

"SA has come too far to have reckless people coming into our state illegally and unwinding that good work."

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