As has been happening ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the shifting fortunes of each state has created an ever-changing situation, where border closure confusion continues.
As infection rates and outbreaks ebb and flow, so the health authorities in each state adapt to the latest advice and recalibrate border controls.
After the initial shock of the arrival of the virus, the situation became clear as the first wave of infections flowed through, the international travel ban and strict quarantine had the desired effect and infections slowed.
For the less populated states it was possible to limit border crossing and virtually eliminate new infections. This was the case for Tasmania, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia. Then, as infection rates slowed in Queensland, it too joined the border closure club.
At this point the trucking industry was little effected with freight being classified as an essential service and allowed to function relatively normally. This situation remained the case for quite a few weeks and the industry became used to some form of ‘new normal’.
The latest outbreak in Melbourne and the subsequent increase in case in New South Wales has changed that picture quite drastically. The rules on all borders have been amended on a weekly basis, it would seem, and the bureaucracy struggles to keep up with policy.
This has left transport companies racing around to try and get the correct paperwork for each border crossing for each truck. Operators with multiple border crossings a day are having to monitor every state to find out what the border crossing requirements for their trucks are today, and what they will be tomorrow.
The best guidance probably comes from the various state governments themselves. Diesel is publishing this list of the websites for the various jurisdictions, with the hope that they will be regularly updated as we move forward.
The Public Health (COVID-19 Interstate Travellers) Emergency Direction 2020 specifically exempts all transits through the Australian Capital Territory by road for business or freight purposes.
Therefore, under the Direction, freight, transport and trucking companies do not need to apply for an exemption to enter the ACT.
The preference would be that companies who are transiting through the ACT restrict their activity to the delivery or receipt of goods only. Should there be a need to take a rest stop in order to manage fatigue, we ask that drivers adhere to the following protocols.
The Transport for NSW website tells us:
Freight and transport operators require a current border entry permit issued by Service NSW to enter NSW from Victoria. Applications for the new permit are now live and any permits issued before 4pm on Tuesday 21 July 2020 have now expired and are no longer valid. New permits are valid for 14 days.
Workers moving freight on a commercial basis will not be required to self-isolate but must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and follow it at all times. The COVID-19 Safety Plan must address all of the actions raised in the COVID-19 Safety checklist for moving freight.
The advice from the Northern Territory Government website is:
If you are returning or travelling from a designated hotspot with freight you MUST submit your COVID-19 management plan with a travel plan and driver details. Drivers will not be permitted entry without prior written approval of the Management Plan by the CHO.
Your company must be able to demonstrate that drivers will comply with all conditions attached to the COVID-19 management plan
Entering Queensland, especially from NSW, has been problematic for some, the website does take a bit of navigating around to find information.
You must complete a Queensland Border Declaration Pass before you come to Queensland. This will include agreeing to get tested for COVID-19 if you develop any symptoms within 14 days of arriving in Queensland.
In South Australia, freight is also exempted according to the web site. The main website https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/emergency-declarations/cross-border-travel is where any amendments should be posted.
Tasmania has an exemption for, ‘Any person who, in the carriage of his or her duties, is responsible for the provision of transport or freight and logistics into, within, and out of Tasmania.’
The essential traveller criteria are here. Any changes should be posted on the main site, here. https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/emergency-declarations/cross-border-travel
You can find out the latest information for Victoria at the government website. There is no restriction on going into the state, the problems all occur when you try and leave Victoria.
For Western Australia the rules are quite strict and operators need to apply for a permit.