New moves on Covid-19 border and health measures

Photography by: Greg Bush

No drastic changes but some clarification sought on masks

New moves on Covid-19 border and health measures
A Covid-19 warning sign


Border control and health responses to Covid-19 continue to evolve in different jurisdictions, with the latest industry updates focusing on face coverings for freight workers.

Victoria’s recent mandate from 11.59pm on Wednesday, July 22, will require people to wear a face covering, including "if you are driving for work, such as deliveries", the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) clarifies.

On the Victoria-NSW border, Road Freight New South Wales (RFNSW) notes from midnight Tuesday, July 21, a border zone, defined along the Murray River, will be established.

Entry to NSW from Victoria will be restricted, and exemptions for NSW residents travelling from the Victorian side of the border zone will be limited further.

Permits issued up until the commencement of the border zone will expire at midnight July 21 . 

Operators that remain eligible under the new rules will need to apply for a new permit.

Those travelling from Victoria to Queensland, will need a NSW border entry permit and a QLD border declaration pass.

"Road Freight NSW has been told that the new border permits are being worked through the Health Ministry and we would strongly suggest that you examine your and implement your COVID Safety Plans in the interim," RFNSW CEO Simon O’Hara notes.

"There may be a requirement for face masks.

"So, I would suggest that you do the necessary in these circumstances for your drivers in anticipation. 

"As we understand it, this is a fast moving situation and industry will need to re-apply for border permits given that there are new requirements."

How the NT removed essential worker exemptions, here

Meanwhile, the focus on masks extends to South Australia, with the NHVR noting essential travellers must now wear a face mask when entering South Australia and self-quarantine in their truck or other private arrangement when not undertaking work related duties. (This was subsequently changed. See here.)

Previously this was only a requirement when entering South Australia from Victoria.

The South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) notes it is seeking clarification on requiring face masks "when in contact with the public".

"There is no definition, still, of 'public' but from discussions with SAPol and SAHealth this week we expected the new direction to make clear that Vic resident HV drivers must wear a mask in SA when not in their truck and not in quarantine.

"Clearly it would be wise for Vic resident HV drivers, i.e who fall under Schedule 2 of the Direction and who must quarantine in SA when not working, to also wear face masks at all times, including when visiting depots and customers’ premises."

Western Roads Federation (WRF) flags Western Australia's advice that "anyone who does enter WA under an exemption to perform essential work will now be required to wear a mask while carrying out that work," in an article to the ABC.

"People were also asked to ensure they have masks available and are wearing them whenever they enter WA, including if arriving as an essential worker via road, rail or sea," the article continued.

Furthermore, any freight operator permitted to enter WA using a G2G Pass who has been in Victoria or NSW during the previous 14 days will be served with a notice on arrival requiring them to take a Covid-19 test on day 11 of their time in Western Australia or at any point when symptoms develop. Previously this was only a requirement for Victoria.

Finally, last week in Queensland, the state’s chief health officer Jeannette Young wrote to the freight and logistics industry asking for its cooperation in its efforts to control the pandemic.

"As you may be aware there are currently Covid-19 hotspots across New South Wales and Victoria, the latter of which has reported cases of Covid-19 connected with distribution centres.

"The movement of freight and logistics drivers in and out of Covid-19 hotspots represents a potential transmission risk for these persons and the broader community

"Given the critical function served by our freight and logistics drivers in supporting the ongoing functioning of Australia, I understand that it is not practical to require these persons to quarantine when moving in and out of Covid-19 hotspots.

"In order to protect both the drivers and our community, I would encourage all freight and logistics operators to require their drivers who are entering Queensland from a Covid-19 hotspot.

  • to be tested for and receive a negative last result for Covid-19 dated within 7 days of their arrival in Queensland, and maintain a weekly testing regime while they continue to travel into and out of Covid-19 hotspots
  • be tested if they develop any symptoms consistent with Covid-19. including cough shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of smell or loss of taste,
  • retain records of the testing, which may be requested by an emergency officer (public health)

"The above testing approach seeks to contribute to positive health outcomes for your drivers and our community. We must work together to respond to Covid-19 and testing has proven to be an effective measure in managing the spread of infection.

"I would also hope that this testing approach would provide a measure of comfort to your drivers given their transit through Covid-19 hotspots as their health and wellbeing is important to the Queensland Governor."

* The South Australian update that was here is subject to change and has been taken down. 

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