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‘Common Sense Prevailed’: SA Border Reopened

Thursday, 7th January, 2021

By Travis Radford

Broken Hill residents can now travel into South Australia as well as Victoria, after months of Mayor Turley lobbying with SA’s Government.

Locals can visit anywhere in SA with a border permit and a negative COVID-19 test from the last seven days. 

Travelling to Victoria is even easier, with no permit required, as long as you haven’t visited anywhere else in NSW recently. All you’ll need is a photo ID with a Broken Hill address for you and your passengers.

Broken Hill Mayor Darriea Turley said the SA exemption zone is something she had been fighting for the last eight months. Mayor Turley had been in regular contact with the SA authorities leading up to the announcement. 

“Every Friday, just about, I would write a letter ... giving examples of why we should be considered a bubble.

“I was greatly relieved,” she said of the decision to create an exemption zone for Broken Hill and Wentworth, but she urged SA to also include Wilcannia and Menindee, that don’t fall within the 100km radius. “They are as isolated as Broken Hill,” she said.

Murray MP Helen Dalton has used the situation to call for further action, releasing a statement asking for a national approach to managing state borders during the pandemic.

“The federal government should lead the formation of nation-wide standards, which provide clear trigger points on border closures, notice periods, a user-friendly exemption system and proper staffing of border checkpoints and helplines,” she said.

Mrs Dalton is also requesting compensation for border towns like Broken Hill, to stop them turning into “ghost towns,” from the impact on local tourism businesses due to border closures.

Junction Hotel Manager Grant Williams said fewer tourists and travellers are coming through Broken Hill since the pandemic started have reduced his hotel’s profitability.

“There’s been a lot of cancellations of functions,” he said. 

Mr Williams estimates his hotel would normally host 40 to 50 functions per year - last year he only had six.

Mayor Turley said the border bubble was important not only for business and family connections, but also for access to healthcare in South Australia. 

“A lot of people who had elective surgery planned or [who were] having critical treatment then all of a sudden weren’t able to access healthcare,” she said. 

A spokesperson for the Far West Local Health District said in a statement, “It is business as usual ... during our normal holiday service arrangements.”

Mayor Turley also urged locals travelling interstate to use masks and hand sanitiser, and to practice social distancing when possible.

“I remind everybody that the pandemic is still happening - just because it’s the New Year, it hasn’t gone away.

“Just keep following up [on public health orders] before you travel, in case it changes,” she said.

SA Police advise applying for a border permit seven days in advance of your trip. You can apply for a permit here: https://www.police.sa.gov.au/online-services/cross-border-travel-application.

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