Freedom for some, confusion for most and border communities in the dark

12 October 2021

This week is one of excitement for NSW. After 18 months of uncertainty and ongoing lockdowns – there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.  

The community has worked hard to earn these freedoms back; across NSW more than 90% of people aged 16 and over have had their first vaccine dose.

The Eurobodalla and Bega Valley both have first dose vaccination rates of over 95% and Queanbeyan-Palerang, Yass, Snowy Monaro and Snowy Valleys all have at least 90% first dose for those aged 16 and over. All LGAs have either surpassed 70% double dose or are very close to reaching that milestone.

People in Eden-Monaro have taken up the vaccine challenge with gusto and they’re ready to get on with their lives.

But while this means greater freedoms for some, many are trying to grapple with ongoing confusion about what they’re allowed to do.

Business owners are unsure about whether they need to check their customers vaccination status, employees are unsure if they can work while only partially vaccinated – and the list goes on.

But the confusion is particularly rife in our border communities. My team and I are answering hundreds of questions every week from people trying to understand the complex and ever-changing rules.

I’ve spent the last couple of months advocating with the ACT and NSW Governments to make sure our border communities weren’t unfairly disadvantaged.

Thankfully, this week my advocacy has paid off. The ACT Government has now widened the border bubble to include Braidwood, Cooma, Jindabyne, Tumut, Tumbarumba, Batlow, Bombala and all the communities in between. People are also now able to enter Canberra for more reasons, including visiting family. This will be in place from Friday 15 October.

NSW Health has also put in place an exemption so NSW residents who enter Canberra for work or medical will not need to follow stay at home orders when they return.

This is great news for Eden-Monaro residents, but the border issues are in no way resolved.

While people from NSW can enter Canberra for shopping or visiting family, the NSW Health orders mean they will need to stay at home for 14 days when they return. Put simply, the ACT and NSW health order still do not align.

People want to do the right thing – they’re just not sure how the rules affect them and their families.

The lack of consistency and clear communication from the NSW Government for our border communities is infuriating. There are so many ‘what if’ scenarios that there are currently no answers for.  

I will keep advocating for a sensible arrangement that works both ways because our border communities can’t be kept in the dark any longer. They deserve clarity, and they deserve to be able to celebrate like the rest of NSW.