THE Canberra Times is reporting that people heading from the nation’s capital to holiday on the South Coast of NSW could find their getaway ends up with an arrest.
It hasn’t got to that stage along the Bass Coast but it’s clearly being seen as an option by NSW authorities.
Last week there was some feedback that the Sentinel-Times should not have printed the appeal by Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child, asking non-residents to “go home”, but it’s a concern that has been expressed by local residents, health services and local government officials right up and down the eastern seaboard of Australia.
We love having the visitors and non-residents here, under normal circumstances, just not now when health services are concerned about coping with the impending peak.
And that’s not to mention interacting with people from other areas at the supermarket, and a pressure on local resources.
But thankfully many visitors have heard the call and local real estate agents, from Inverloch to the Island, are reporting heavy cancellations, if not total holiday cancellations ahead of Easter.
However, a local real estate agent, who asked not to be named, has sought to draw a distinction between casual holiday visitors renting a local house and those who spend a lot of time in the local area.
“We have a lot of people here who have their second home down here and end up spending a lot of their time here. They have a big commitment to the area, they know lots of people locally, contribute to the economy, are ratepayers and often loved by their neighbours and others,” he said.
“I consider those people to be as much “local” here as they are in Melbourne or elsewhere and as far as I am concerned, they are welcome to stay.”
He also pointed out the situation where a family might make a decision for the older family members to move away from adult children, who may be living with them in their family home in Melbourne or elsewhere, and limit the risk to both by isolating themselves in their second home.
Or vice versa, the adult kids might move down here to give their elderly parents space.
Under new laws passed this week, people outside their home without a reasonable excuse face a maximum $11,000 fine and/or six months in jail.
In NSW legislation explicitly states that going to regional NSW for a holiday is not a reasonable excuse.
The issue has however been confused in Victoria because Premier Daniel Andrews initially said it was alright to go and live in your holiday home, be that by the coast or in the mountains.
Mr Andrews said there was nothing to legally stop people going to holiday homes, but he said the message was to “stay at home” wherever possible.
I have more than one home. Can I choose which one I stay in?
The Department of Human Services put out a ‘Stay at home and restricted activities directions’ notice on March 31 that doesn’t appear to make the rules for Victorians any clearer.
“Victorians are being told not to travel unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to, you may travel between your own two residences. The Stay at Home provisions apply when you are at either home. When you are there, stay home.”
The Canberra Times is reporting that “there is the belief held by some that Canberra residents are exempt from these new laws because they are not NSW residents”.
But Police confirmed that is not the case, stating they will enforce these new laws in the same way as speeding or any other offences – meaning that residents from other states and territories can still be fined.
It will be interesting to see what happens in holiday areas but it already appears many people have responded to the “go home” sentiment and done exactly that in Bass Coast and South Gippsland coastal areas and gone home.
But some have stayed and it will be interesting to see how government, local government, health authorities, local residents and the police react.