Interstate primary producers and agriculture workers will be eligible to apply for a permit to enter Victoria despite border restrictions following a plan announced by the Victorian government on Monday morning.
Effective immediately, all agriculture workers who live and work between New South Wales and Victoria - other than those already covered under the existing border bubble arrangements - can apply for a permit to enter Victoria.
Stock agents have welcomed the announcement amid the Victorian weaner sales series which kicked off at Mortlake on Monday.
More than 40,000 cattle are expected to be sold during the feature sales across the state
Permitted agriculture workers entering Victoria must wear a face mask in all public places, get regularly tested for coronavirus, self-quarantine when not working and only leave their accommodation for takeaway food or drink, bathroom stops, medical care, to obtain a coronavirus test or in an emergency.
Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas said the move would keep Victoria's vital food and fibre supply chain moving.
"Many of our agriculture workers need to cross the border to perform their vital work - these permits will allow that to happen while keeping our state safe," Ms Thomas said.
"We're backing the food and fibre industry in these challenging times - I urge anyone needing support to get in touch with Agriculture Victoria as a first port of call."
The new arrangements which apply to agriculture workers are similar to the same safeguards workers in the freight and essential services industries face.
Workers must only remain in Victoria for the period necessary and minimise contact with other people.
Victorian farmers and agriculture workers living outside the border bubble and re-entering Victoria after conducting work in NSW will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return and get tested for coronavirus twice.
Agents welcome move
Wodonga-based Brian Unthank Rural director Michael Unthank said the announcement was "positive news".
"This means people from outside Victoria will still be able to attend our sales in person," Mr Unthank said.
"However, with the introduction of online bidding we expect that will accommodate some buyers who will utilise this system rather than attend the sale physically."
An estimated 13,000 calves will be sold at Wodonga and Wangaratta this week.
Another Wodonga agent, Corcoran Parker director Kevin Corcoran, said it was "satisfying to see the government had put their foot forward to support the rural industry".
"It is similar to what was allowed by the NSW government a few months ago," Mr Corcoran said.
"Around this time of year, a lot of livestock sold in Victoria heads to New South Wales so this common-sense approach will help keep our industry running."
Workers who need to cross the border will be able to apply for a permit at service.vic.gov.au from today, or contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 for further information.
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