A BORDER bubble resident says he was turned away from the Victorian border despite being legally permitted to cross, amid ongoing confusion about the border bubble rules.
Moama man Ian Laird tried to enter Victoria on Wednesday morning to help his elderly father with some garden work in Woodend.
Mr Laird is one of several residents of the Echuca-Moama who say they have been confused by differing advice from police at the border crossing to that given by health authorities.
Mr Laird said crossing officers told him he was not allowed to go to Woodend, as it was outside the border bubble. He was told instead he would need to get a permit to cross.
Under the current border restrictions residents of the NSW bubble area may travel wherever they chose in Victoria without a permit, as long as they have not been outside the bubble area in NSW and carry a valid form of ID.
This is stated on the Department of Health and Human Services information for border communities website, which does also recommend they travel only as far as necessary.
The Bendigo Advertiser confirmed separately with the department on Wednesday that this was the rule for border residents.
When Mr Laird explained his situation to a more senior officer, referencing the DHHS information, she told him that was not what police had been told.
It meant Mr Laird was forced to turn around and apply for a permit, which he was told he would hear back about within 48 hours.
In contrast, Mr Laird said his wife was allowed to cross the border to travel to Melbourne that same day, without being asked where she was going.
Mr Laird said police on the border were just doing their job, but were not being told what was going on. He said it was disappointing and annoying not to be able to see his elderly father, but he planned to go next week.
"It's a bit of a piecemeal thing this. They keep changing [the rules] and people just can't keep up with it and I think that's why there's so much confusion," he said.
"COVID-19's been around for so long now, that they really should have scenarios in place and rules for each scenario, so when it happens, they implement the rules to match the scenario."
A Victoria Police spokesperson said they would not comment on specific incidents at border checkpoints, but the organisation was working closely with DHHS to make sure officers enforced the latest chief health officer directives.
They said police would apply common sense and in certain circumstances, discretion, but officers were expected to follow the CHO directives.
A DHHS spokesperson thanked border communities for their patience helping control the spread of coronavirus in Victoria. They said updates were regularly communicated to Victoria Police.
Moama resident Lisa Paul has also been confused about the restrictions surrounding travel outside the Victorian bubble area.
Mrs Paul said she wanted to confirm whether she could visit her grandchildren in Melbourne, after their visit to Moama was cancelled by the border closures.
She said she had checked the DHHS website, but was confused by different opinions and hearing that police were saying NSW border residents could not travel beyond the bubble in Victoria.
Premier Daniel Andrews suggested on Thursday that the hard border closure may end earlier than expected, saying government would revisit it next week.
With The Border Mail.
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