Video claiming to show how to bypass border lockdown slammed
Police Minister David Elliott has called on people to respect border restrictions following the release of a video on TikTok claiming to show how easy it is to bypass Victorian-NSW road closures.
The video, posted on the Chinese-owned platform last week, purports to show a truck driving into NSW from Victoria without a permit check.
The brazen video titled 'Illegal border crossing VIC-NSW: A how to' shows a man seemingly skirt any of the mandated identity or permit checks - simply because he is driving a truck.
Under current border closure rules, not all heavy vehicles are stopped and checked as they enter NSW. Instead, according to NSW Police, trucks are subject to random "dip sampling" to help reduce bottlenecks and save time for freight workers.
On Monday alone, more than 300 trucks were stopped and checked between Victoria and NSW, according to NSW Police.
But some have criticised the special freight entry rules as an enforcement loophole with the video, dated July 8, allegedly showing the man crossing from Wodonga to Albury without being stopped.
"On our way to cross the border with no permit... Feel like a smuggler," the video, timestamped 6.20am, says.
Footage shows the vehicle drive past the Murray River and a sign warning of queuing traffic ahead, before gliding into Albury without being stopped.
"Nope, it is in fact that easy, just hire a truck," the man posted.
The driver has since claimed he crossed the border legally with a permit and the video was just "a joke" aimed at highlighting holes in border enforcement.
"I was just pointing fun at the fact I could have not had one because nobody checked," he said.
But the video has prompted a stern rebuke from NSW Police, who are urging people to be honest at the border and for those who catch people doing the wrong thing, to come forward.
"Police will continue to enforce public health orders; anyone who has information about individuals or businesses in contravention of these directions is urged to contact police or Crime Stoppers," a spokeswoman said.
"Please do not try and cross unless you have a valid permit," Superintendant Paul Smith warned.
Mr Elliott said this was a critical time for NSW and obeying the border rules was "a matter of life and death."
"Everybody needs to think long and hard about what is at risk here in NSW," Mr Elliott said.
The video has already attracted more than 133,000 views and 5000 likes.
Border town MP Bill Tilley slammed the footage as a threat to the effectiveness of the state's border lockdown.
"It's idiots like this that spread coronavirus and increase the likelihood of a complete border shutdown," he said.
"NSW police are trying to keep the freight lines open, avoid issues with fatigue management and a five-hour wait for trucks getting through Albury-Wodonga. So it's acts like this, that encourage others to use a known loophole, that also threaten entire industries and businesses in both states, not just our Border communities."
NSW doubles down on border closure
It comes as the NSW Government tightens permit conditions and boosts enforcement powers at the border as NSW battles several Victoria-linked outbreaks.
Health authorities last week revealed a freight worker from Melbourne had sparked the Crossroads Hotel cluster in southwest Sydney, prompting authorities to tighten restrictions.
From midnight on Tuesday, all people with permits have to carry a copy of their permit with them and produce it when directed. NSW Police will also have broadened powers to request the cancellation of a permit for a person who poses an unacceptable health risk.
Border zone residents will also only be able to cross the border to go to work, attend an education institute if they can't work or learn from home or to access medical supplies or care.
NSW residents travelling to Victoria will also be more restricted in their reasons for travelling and required to self-isolate if they go beyond the border zone.
All permits have also expired except those on compassionate grounds and people must reapply on Service NSW under the new rules.
Despite the permit crackdown, according to NSW Police, heavy vehicles will still only be subject to random checks.
It is an offence for a person to fail to comply with the border rules and severe penalties apply, which include a maximum penalty of up to $11,000 and/or six months imprisonment for individuals.
Police continue to appeal to the community to report suspected breaches of the border closure.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard declined to comment.
Originally published as Video claiming to show how to bypass border lockdown slammed