Monday's unexpected, but long overdue, decision by the NSW government to remove the requirement for "border bubble" residents who visit the ACT to fill in a declaration before they can go home is an early sign life in our part of the world may slowly be returning to normal.
It finally brings to an end months of confusion and concern over complicated and mismatched cross-border travel arrangements and will make life much easier for travellers and the police tasked with enforcing the rules.
Canberra does not, and never has, existed in isolation. The same is true of our cross-border communities. Yass, Queanbeyan, Bungendore, Braidwood, Goulburn and Bateman's Bay were here long before Henry Parkes ever thought of Federation.
Because of this much of the growth and development in the ACT and its surrounds over the past 100 years has been complementary. And, until COVID-19, the border was just a line on a map.
Tens of thousands of people who work in the ACT live in NSW. This can be to take advantage of larger block sizes, more affordable housing or just to enjoy a more bucolic lifestyle than Canberra offers.
Hundreds, possibly thousands, of former Canberrans live in retirement homes in Yass and nearby centres. It would be impossible to count the number of families whose members are scattered across the two jurisdictions.
Queanbeyan in particular has evolved as an integral part of the territory in almost all but name. The same is true of the satellite suburbs of Jerrabomberra and Googong.
Until Monday's literally 11th hour announcement, residents in all these areas were in the absurd position that although NSW had just marked its "freedom day" they would still have to live under lockdown if they travelled to the ACT.
This was despite the fact the territory government had wisely chosen to place no impediments on travel by people from the immediate cross-border community at any point during the pandemic.
While the NSW government was, on the one hand, taking potshots at Queensland over its restrictions on the movement of people from the north of the state across the border, it was imposing a similar regime in respect to the ACT on the other.
The restrictions imposed during lockdowns have been the cause of much hardship, isolation and distress.
Even now, when Canberra's actual vaccine take-up is actually ahead of that in NSW because we count over-12s, not just over-16s, Canberrans have been told not to slip across to Queanbeyan, Yass or to Murrumbateman for a quick beer, a haircut, a meal out or to visit a winery as NSW police will be "aggressively enforcing" the rules.
That should change on Friday when the stay-at-home orders here are finally eased.
"Travel will change on Friday, then it will change again further at the end of October, then in December when NSW drops its double-vaccinated requirement," Chief Minister Andrew Barr said earlier this week.
While this is welcome news it does not go far enough.
Senator Zed Seselja is right to call on NSW to lift the restriction on double-vaccinated Canberrans travelling to other parts of regional NSW, such as the south coast.
Given the high vaccination rates in both jurisdictions it makes no sense on any practical level whatsoever and, as he points out, continues to keep families separated.
If Mr Perrottet is serious about opening up he should treat all residents of this region equally.
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