Calls for safe return pathway
State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed has called on the Victorian Government to find a safe pathway home for Victorians who have been locked out due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The News spoke to Ken and Dawn Muston who are stuck in Coffs Harbour and unable to return from a holiday up north to join family in Shepparton.
“We were due to be back this week, now I don’t know when we’ll be back,” Mr Muston said.
“Some of the people stuck here have specialist medical appointments and they can’t get home for them.”
Ms Sheed said Victorians trapped interstate felt like the government didn’t trust them to test and then isolate until they had returned a negative result once they crossed the border.
“We have been speaking to residents from the Shepparton electorate either waiting at the New South Wales border or Queensland and they are growing increasingly anxious that there is no clear path for their return,” Ms Sheed said.
“While my office was able to help some residents with exceptional cases to return, we have many more who left to travel in their caravans when they were entitled to and now find themselves locked out of their own state.”
Ms Sheed said testing and isolation would remove the risk.
“We are going to great efforts to bring people home from overseas and provide quarantine facilities for them. Surely, we can bring home our local residents from interstate and find a safe way to do so,” she said.
Ms Sheed also expressed concern that if granted an exemption to return to Victoria, the time-frame was only 24 hours.
“This is a mammoth task for two drivers, especially when they are elderly, let alone one driver, which is in many instances the case.”
Victoria has now reduced the number of municipalities in the border bubble, removing Greater Shepparton and Benalla, which means residents will no longer be eligible for a cross-border extreme risk zone permit to return if they enter NSW.