TWO Bendigo families say they are stuck in quarantine unnecessarily after returning from Queensland via NSW before transit permits were introduced.
Both cut their holiday short, to return on January 1 in response to messages from the Victorian government.
They each said they believed they would be unable to enter the state for an indefinite amount of time otherwise.
Neither have been able to retrospectively change their permit to a transit permit, which was introduced hours after they arrived. Designed in-part for returnees from Queensland, it would not have required the 14 day quarantine.
Julie Thomas and her family had been on the Sunshine Coast for nearly a week when they heard the news on December 31 that Victoria would have a hard border from 11.59pm on January 1.
They didn't want to be stuck in Queensland, locked out of Victoria, so they made the decision to quickly pack and leave.
Mrs Thomas, her husband and her two daughters travelled 24 hours straight, through the night, getting to the Victorian border at Echuca about 6pm on January 1.
Ms Thomas said when the family left Queensland Bendigo was listed as a border community, with the Department of Health and Human Services website saying they didn't need a permit.
But when they arrived police told the family Bendigo was no longer on the list, so they would need got get a permit which required them to get a COVID-19 test and quarantine for 14 days, she said.
The next day a transit border permit came out for people travelling through NSW from Queensland, which would not have required either.
On January 2, the family then waited eight hours to get a COVID-19 test, required within 24 hours of entry to Victoria under their permit.
Mrs Thomas said if the family had just waited on the NSW side of the Murray River for six hours, they would not have been in quarantine, nor had to wait for testing.
She said quarantine had meant her husband was unable to take a posting to a new location due on Monday, while her children had been unable to see friends during their school holidays.
A Bendigo woman who preferred to remain anonymous described a similar experience.
Her family - including her husband, children and parents - packed up, left at 3am on January 1 and arrived at the Victorian border about 8pm, passing through about 10.30pm. She said they barely stopped, took all their own food from Queensland, and social distanced and sanitised "like crazy".
They had been trying for hours to access a transit permit, checking the permit website whenever they got to a hotspot. Every time it said more details to follow.
The woman said a friend was able to access a transit permit hours later on January 2.
The woman said her family then waited more than eight hours to get a COVID-19 test the next day.
She said she had little success trying to contact the coronavirus hotline, to clarify whether she could change her permit.
A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said the rules that applied on the day of the border crossing were the relevant border rules. They said on January 1, the rule was to get tested and isolate for 14 days after crossing the border.
They said each exemption was assessed on a case by case basis.
The spokesperson thanked the community for their patience helping to control the spread of COVID-19.
The Sunshine Coast is outside of the areas in Queensland subject to a hard lockdown since Friday, in response to the diagnosis of COVID-19 in a hotel cleaner.
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