Canberra’s ‘hard border’ softens

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POLICE have toned down their presence on the ACT border in favour of random check points to enforce public health directions.

The measures relating to restricting travel from some of coronavirus hotspots have eased the wait time for NSW residents driving to Canberra.

A number of visitors from nearby Yass and Goulburn complained about a hard border order that resorted to Goulburn mayor Bill Kirk to suggest a permit system or a fast lane for workers heading to Canberra.

“We don’t believe that is necessary at this point,” ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said at a press conference last week.

“We don’t want these checkpoints to be be in place for a day longer than is necessary.

“This is not something that we would anticipate still being the case where police are at the border every single day through the entire month of January, February and beyond.

“This is not a hard border closure.”

By the end of the weekend, the police presence targeting visitors on NSW number plates had all but evaporated on the border.

In its place a number of check points were set up at Commonwealth Avenue in Parkes, Limestone Avenue in Campbell, Lady Denman Drive in Yarralumla and Clarrie Hermes Drive in Casey more akin to an RBT station.

“We do need people to understand that these public health measures, and the chief health officer has been clear about this, is not targeted at ACT residents from stopping them from coming back,” Mr Barr said, “nor is it targeted at people at Queanbeyan, Yass or Goulburn unless they have been in a hotspot and then they shouldn’t be coming into the ACT.”

Mr Barr said instead the checks has been about a “mixture of random activity aimed at capturing people doing the wrong thing”.

Those who breach the orders and are travelling from greater Sydney, Wollongong or Central Coast face an $8000 fine.

Police directed just four people into quarantine while a further eight Canberrans will follow up with ACT Health from more than 1900 drivers stopped.

Two drivers failed to stop at the Lady Denman Drive and Clarrie Hermes Drive checkpoints.

A 32-year-old Taylor woman is due to face court today on a number of charges for dangerously passing police as they were setting up the Clarrie Hermes Drive check point.

Investigations are continuing for the driver who failed to stop at the Lady Denman Drive checkpoint.

Head of Canberra’s COVID-19 taskforce, Supt Rohan Smith said this type of behaviour was unacceptable.

“If you see red and blue flashing lights, you must slow down to 40km/h to pass stationary or slow moving emergency vehicles, this includes traffic near COVID-19 check points,” he said.

“ACT police’s temporary road check-points show the community that we can be anywhere at any time.”

 

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