Businessman blasts ACT travel rules ‘crucifying’ his company

Businessman blasts ACT travel rules ‘crucifying’ his company

A Canberra removalist says his business is being “crucified” by the restrictions across the different boundaries he has to cross to make a living. Colin Mitchell of Mitchell Family Removals said he got the correct permits so he, his wife and even his dog Kobe could cross to New South Wales from Victoria but then hit a blank with the ACT. The result is that he now has to spend 14 days in quarantine and not getting any income at a time when the economy needs to get going. He accused the territory government of not understanding business. Mr Mitchell’s problems stem from a delivery he made to Victoria, though not to anywhere near Melbourne. He said he was given a permit to enter Victoria, make two deliveries in Sarsfield and then to re-enter New South Wales on the way back. But when he reached home in the ACT, he was told he would have to go into quarantine – which he said would severely damage his business. “We’ve done everything by the book like we were told to do and then we get crucified,” he said. “I can’t afford to stay at home.” He was particularly scathing about ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith, saying “she has no idea what it’s like in the private sector”. Mr Mitchell’s entanglement with the coronavirus restrictions started earlier in the month when he made the delivery to Sarsfield which is 299 kilometres from the COVID-19 hotspots in Melbourne and 152 kilometres from the New South Wales border. He said he called the New South Wales police in Queanbeayan to make sure he could get back. “I was told by a police lady: ‘Everything that is breathing requires a NSW Permit to cross the border’. “Wednesday night, I applied for three permits, one for my wife and one for me plus one for our dog Kobe”. All that seemed fine but the NSW Police suggested that he also contact the ACT government. They gave him the number. He got hold of an official. “She said: ‘You are far enough away from the hotspot and this shouldn’t be a problem’.” But then contact went dead, he said. Promised emails never arrived. Phone calls weren’t answered – until: “Monday morning I get an email from ACT Health stating I have to self-isolate for 14 day. In the ACT Health eyes, my business isn’t an essential service anymore.” READ MORE: He is particularly annoyed that Members of Parliament are counted as “essential staff” able to enter the ACT without going into quarantine. The ACT’s categories of essential worker who don’t need quarantine on entry are: But not delivery companies working interstate. ACT Health was asked for comment but had not responded by the time of writing. Mr Mitchell’s problem may be that there are different rules for people staying in New South Wales or the ACT than for those travelling through. To be eligible for a no-quarantine permit, the NSW and ACT rules say you must be “an interstate resident transiting through”. But Mr Mitchell says the rules are confusing and are damaging his business.

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A Canberra removalist says his business is being “crucified” by the restrictions across the different boundaries he has to cross to make a living.

Colin Mitchell of Mitchell Family Removals said he got the correct permits so he, his wife and even his dog Kobe could cross to New South Wales from Victoria but then hit a blank with the ACT.

The result is that he now has to spend 14 days in quarantine and not getting any income at a time when the economy needs to get going.

He accused the territory government of not understanding business.

Mr Mitchell’s problems stem from a delivery he made to Victoria, though not to anywhere near Melbourne.

He said he was given a permit to enter Victoria, make two deliveries in Sarsfield and then to re-enter New South Wales on the way back.

But when he reached home in the ACT, he was told he would have to go into quarantine – which he said would severely damage his business.

“We’ve done everything by the book like we were told to do and then we get crucified,” he said.

We’ve done everything by the book like we were told to do and then we get crucified.

Colin Mitchell

“I can’t afford to stay at home.”

He was particularly scathing about ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith, saying “she has no idea what it’s like in the private sector”.

Mr Mitchell’s entanglement with the coronavirus restrictions started earlier in the month when he made the delivery to Sarsfield which is 299 kilometres from the COVID-19 hotspots in Melbourne and 152 kilometres from the New South Wales border.

He said he called the New South Wales police in Queanbeayan to make sure he could get back. “I was told by a police lady: ‘Everything that is breathing requires a NSW Permit to cross the border’.

“Wednesday night, I applied for three permits, one for my wife and one for me plus one for our dog Kobe”.

All that seemed fine but the NSW Police suggested that he also contact the ACT government. They gave him the number.

He got hold of an official. “She said: ‘You are far enough away from the hotspot and this shouldn’t be a problem’.”

But then contact went dead, he said. Promised emails never arrived. Phone calls weren’t answered – until: “Monday morning I get an email from ACT Health stating I have to self-isolate for 14 day. In the ACT Health eyes, my business isn’t an essential service anymore.”

He is particularly annoyed that Members of Parliament are counted as “essential staff” able to enter the ACT without going into quarantine.

The ACT’s categories of essential worker who don’t need quarantine on entry are:

  • health care
  • government, law enforcement or military
  • Member of Parliament or staff
  • education
  • agriculture
  • construction, Engineering, or manufacturing.

But not delivery companies working interstate.

ACT Health was asked for comment but had not responded by the time of writing.

Mr Mitchell’s problem may be that there are different rules for people staying in New South Wales or the ACT than for those travelling through.

To be eligible for a no-quarantine permit, the NSW and ACT rules say you must be “an interstate resident transiting through”.

But Mr Mitchell says the rules are confusing and are damaging his business.

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