The NSW Government's COVID permit program that is set to come into effect this Saturday morning will no longer include Shellharbour.
Shellharbour locals were facing the prospect of needing a permit to travel to regional NSW for work, for viewing the property, or to go to their holiday home.
Member for Kiama Gareth Ward has negotiated with the state government to have Shellharbour removed from the program.
Ward's confirmed that residents in the Shellharbour Local Government Area will not be included in the permit system, which means that people traveling from Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, and Wollongong to Shellharbour will require a permit.
Reasons for travel requiring a permit include:
Authorised workers from LGAs of concern
Inspecting real estate, any person inspecting real estate in the regions must now genuinely need a home to live in (no investment properties) and travelling to your second home. This is now only allowed if you are using the home for work accommodation or if the home requires urgent maintenance and repairs (if so, only one person may travel there).
"This also means that where travel in regional NSW is allowed under the PHOs for Shellharbour residents, they won't need to get a permit," Ward said.
"To be absolutely clear, people in regional NSW are not required to obtain a permit when traveling into Wollongong, the Blue Mountains, Greater Sydney, or regional NSW when leaving their home with a reasonable excuse under the Public Health Orders.
"I am thrilled that Shellharbour has finally been recognised as being separate from Wollongong and Sydney.
"This has been my view right from the very start and I have never stopped fighting for our community.
Shellharbour has contributed a small number of COVID cases over the last two weeks while Wollongong's transmission has also been low with both LGAs recording a positive case each yesterday.
Ward said Shellharbour doesn't deserve to be put in the same category as Wollongong.
"It took Shellharbour seven weeks to get a case of COVID-19.
"There are other cases in regional communities right now as well but I think that Shellharbour is a very different community from those further north and that is being reflected in these changes," he said.
Ward thanked the Premier and the NSW Health Minister for listening to the concerns of the community.
"As a local MP, I have taken the fight up to ensure the voice of our community is heard at the heart of Government.
"I'm pleased I’ve been able to deliver this common-sense outcome.
"Whilst this is a win for common sense, I would encourage everyone across our community to continue to get vaccinated, get tested, and stay at home.
"This is the only pathway to victory for our State," the member for Kiama said.
Images: Gareth Ward and profile.id.com.au