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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

First wave of stranded ACT residents return home

About 25 Canberrans (and Hunny the dog) have returned to the ACT through the designated checkpoint at Hall today, after being stranded at the Victorian-NSW border since last Friday 7 August.

The 17 vehicles were permitted to cross from Wodonga into Albury NSW from 9am this morning and were required to drive a direct route along the Hume and Barton highways, with a designated stopover, and arrive at the Hall reception centre by 3pm today.

ACT Policing Acting Superintendent John Klepczarek said the strict process was facilitated by NSW Health in collaboration with ACT Policing and the ACT Government.

“The whole operation to get these residents back home has been led by NSW Health so at the Gundagai rest centre we have police and health officials there and they are monitoring everybody who arrives and leaves,” he said.

“We have a strict process for everyone returning today and that includes giving them a detailed briefing of what is expected from them when they leave the checkpoint in Albury.

“There are a number of cross checks to ensure people are staying on the route.”

The ACT residents were travelling to Canberra from Victoria last week when the NSW Government decided to no longer honour previously approved NSW in-transit permits, meaning they couldn’t travel through NSW.

After negotiations between the NSW and ACT governments over the weekend, it was announced yesterday, 12 August, that ACT residents would be permitted a travel window of five days (13-17 August) to get back to the Territory.

Detective Superintendent Mick Calatzis said the main focus for the next four days was to get the residents back home safely.

“I understand the ACT have some welcome packs as well and they will be under quarantine and direction to go to their address,” he said.

“We want to make sure they are safe, they go through the quarantine period … and once that public health period is finished, they can go out into the community as well.”

Residents returning will be required to undertake the 14-day quarantine period monitored by ACT Policing taskforces, with further residents expected to arrive in the ACT in coming days.

“We have had a 99% compliance in the ACT and for weeks on end we have not had a COVID case as well,” Detective Superintendent Calatzis said.

“As we speak today, we have 42 who are registered with ACT Health as well and that information has been shared with NSW and Victoria police.”

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