Victorians stranded in NSW due to border closures have been given new hope of a return home, but for one Ballarat resident there is not much good news.
Premier Daniel Andrews revealed on Monday Victorians in non-locked down areas of NSW were now able to apply for a permit and complete 14 days home quarantine. But there is still no budging on strict rules for those in 'extreme zones' still in lockdown, like Alfredton resident Allan Meers who has twice been rejected a border crossing permit.
Mr Meers arrived in Lismore on July 11 to visit a long-term friend who was dying from cancer and planned to stay for one week, but has now been stuck there for more than 10.
The local government area he is staying in went into lockdown last week, so he is ineligible to apply for a permit under the Victorian government's rule changes. There are currently two confirmed cases in the area.
"I'm really upset by what has happened," Mr Meers said. "Many local government areas in NSW have been free of COVID for weeks and months, so why has it taken the government so long to recognise this fact?
"I could have returned home to Ballarat any time in the last 10 weeks in a COVID-safe manner in order to self quarantine for 14 days."
Mr Meers has been living out of a small airline carry bag for the past 10 weeks. He said the Victorian government had created a new category of refugee.
"The 'state-sponsored refugee' - someone who's excluded from their own state as a result of the indifference and incompetence of their own government. This issue could have been addressed by a more nuanced approach - not with the heavy-handed, disproportionate response we've seen from the health minister and others."
Mr Meers will wait until Friday to find out if Lismore comes out of lockdown and will then wait to hear if the Victorian Chief Health Officer reclassifies the area as a 'red' not 'extreme' zone.
"I miss my home, my partner and my friends..."