Border Bubble Burst

Thursday July 09, 2020

Published by The Border Watch

By Todd Lewis

Community urged to remain vigilant amid heightened coronavirus concern

MOUNT Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin has urged the community to be more vigilant amid a heightened concern regarding the “tenuous” COVID-19 situation in Victoria.

It follows the South Australian Police strengthening their border controls today with more than 260 police deployed to the Victorian border across the state.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said additional resources would monitor the 65 crossing points between Victoria and South Australia as negotiations to engage the Australian Defence Force (ADF) continue.

The escalating situation has left Ms Martin concerned for the safety and well-being of Mount Gambier because of its unique position as a border community.

“We have got a lot of tracks that lead into Mount Gambier and to man all of those points is going to require a number of extra resources,” she said.

“I know they are looking to potentially deploy some defence personnel to assist with that and that really raises your awareness to another level.”

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell said if police required assistance, then support from the ADF was warranted.

“The safety of South Australians comes first so I support our government’s stance on tighter border restrictions while cases continue to grow in Victoria,” Mr Bell said.

“Many people have contacted me about the borders not being properly enforced so it is my hope extra patrols on the border will crack down on the number of people crossing borders without exemptions.”

The concept of a travel bubble between the Limestone Coast and western Victoria has also burst with Mr Bell admitting the situation had changed rapidly in recent days.

“We have to be able to adapt and respond to a constantly changing situation and while the concept of a travel bubble had merit weeks ago, the situation has now changed,” he said.

“This week has brought reports of confirmed cases holidaying in Port Fairy which is closer to home so we cannot be complacent.

“Once Victoria gets their caseload under control, we can again look at how a travel bubble could work for our community moving forward.”

Mr Bell also supported the stricter conditions on cross-border community members, which will force them to quarantine when not conducting essential duties.

“These measures will be hard on people but I support them and respect the decision-making process behind them,” Mr Bell said.

“The health and safety of South Australians is the number one priority and these measures, although tough, will still allow essential travellers to continue to work and cross the border.”

Victoria has recorded 452 new cases of COVID-19 in the past three days, which Ms Martin said it was a wake-up call the pandemic is not over.

“It’s a real illustration of how virulent and contagious the virus is and I think people may have started to become a little relaxed,” she said.

“I think this will be a real wake-up call about how serious the virus is.”

Urging the community to heed the advice of public health authorities, Ms Martin said a virus outbreak in the Limestone Coast could have numerous implications.

“Our businesses are just getting back on their feet and it would be devastating if they had to close again as they may not be able to withstand that second wave,” Ms Martin said.

“It has also crossed my mind that if we were to get the virus down here, we may be considered a threat to Adelaide and be locked down, because it only takes one to infiltrate,” she said.