By Graeme Kemlo
Along with thousands of other Victorians I crossed the no-go zone into New South Wales (NSW) yesterday having been locked out since July – 137 days to be precise – and despite that Section 92 of the Australian Constitution dictates that ‘intercourse among the states… shall be absolutely free.’
On Sunday premier Gladys Berejiklian promised the good people of Albury, “this is the last time in our lifetime this border is closed.”
Thinking we would get a head start on Monday we drove up Sunday to our side of the Murray and stayed overnight at Wodonga. Plenty of Victorians had the same idea. It was a clear run all the way. We passed singles, couples, families, caravans, RVs towing boats, 4WDs with groaning roof racks, utes, motorbikes and cars with bikes hanging off the boot. At our hotel those I spoke to were heading north for family reunions. So were we… missing children and grandchildren.
Good news during the Sunday drive was premier Dan Andrews’ announcement of a change in arrangements for the Christmas period with 30 people allowed into your home per day from December 13, 2020. He also eased the face mask rule, declaring no need to wear masks outside, unless you found yourself in a crowded situation. However, you still had to carry a mask at all times and wear it inside shops and anywhere there’s no social distancing.
Commercial venues gain an increase in crowd density indoors and outdoors, depending on their size, but a minimum of 50 customers indoors should enable the hospitality sector to get some much-needed dollars through the till. Further easing of these rules is expected soon.
While NSW does not need masks to be worn, I may still wear a mask because for many of us it has proved an extra line of defence and not so much as a cold has so far snuck under my guard in 2020.
Victoria has had no infections and no COVID deaths for over three weeks now. Meanwhile, half a world away in the USA, one wonders what might happen to the COVID infections (currently about 200,000) after Thanksgiving. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) warned Americans against travel this Thanksgiving, but more than one million passengers were carried last Friday and one airline reported a 35 per cent increase in flights this week. Instead of the highways crowded with 55 million travellers, the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimated 10 per cent fewer would now travel… meaning only 50 million in cars this Thanksgiving. The CDC will be monitoring any spike in infections in 14 days.