THIS week’s closure of borders with Victoria to contain the spread of COVID-19 should have minimal impact on essential agricultural cross-border movements under conditions similar to those that have been in place during the New South Wales-Queensland border shut down.
NSW closed its border with Victoria from midnight last night (Wednesday) and South Australia has imposed a hard border with Victoria.
Special conditions have been put in place for freight operations and other critical services.
The NSW Health Minister has issued a Public Health Order in which agriculture and freight for commercial purposes will be allowed to move freely across the border.
Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) president, David Jochinke, welcomed the move to guarantee the free movement across borders of agriculture and freight for commercial purposes.
“While a permit will be required, VFF is pleased that agriculture is specified in the Order. Our industry is a critical service and this is clearly acknowledged in this Public Order,” he said.
“In the meantime, we have also focused on the tightening of restrictions by South Australia and are seeking urgent clarification on this matter. Our industry is a critical service.”
Information on permits, freight operations and other critical services, as well as provisions for residents of NSW border regions is available on the Service NSW website or by calling the information line on 13 77 88.
There are also restrictions on the movement of people from Victoria into SA. A pre-approval process is now in place for interstate travellers wishing to enter SA. For more information about SA border restrictions go to the South Australian Government COVID-19 website , or call the information line on 1800 253 787.
No permit or approval is required to enter Victoria from another state – however anyone entering will need to adhere to the restrictions and directions that are in place in Victoria.
Victorian Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes said the extent of any impacts to agricultural industries would become clearer as details of how the border closure would operate were worked though.
“We are working closely with our Federal and New South Wales counterparts to ensure freight movements across the border can continue and our agricultural products can be delivered to market shelves across Victoria,” she said.
“We know there are many farmers, agricultural workers and service providers that need to cross the border regularly to do their jobs – we are committed to ensuring we can support them during this difficult time.”
NSW Minister for Agriculture, Adam Marshall, said the NSW and Victorian governments were working together to ensure the agricultural supply chain and its associated workers and businesses would be able to continue operating, despite the border closure.
““Agriculture is critical to both our states and to the country, which is why we’ll be working to make sure there’s minimal to no disruption to this essential sector.”
The Queensland-NSW border will reopen to residents of all states and territories, except Victoria, from tomorrow (Friday).
Sources: VFF, Victorian Government, NSW Government