STARTING today, Victoria’s border with New South Wales is officially closed.
And while residents of border towns like Echuca-Moama are understandably reeling from the Victorian Government's announcement on Monday, the effects are set to be felt by outlying regions like Kyabram and district as well.
Kyabram Chamber of Commerce president and Brady Electrical Contracting owner Billy Brady said the announcement had put an immediate stress on his business.
“Half of our team live in NSW, so we are frantically going around trying to get permits and ensure that we can keep trading with these restrictions in place. We’re just one of many businesses with the same issue,” he said.
“You can understand why the government is enforcing this, but it’s going to be hard for everyone. The fact that they still haven't got the permit system in place makes us a little nervous.
“I want to encourage everyone to remember to shop local and remember that everyone is doing it tough.”
State Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said NSW had thrown a lifeline to border towns such as Echuca, but its borders remained closed to anyone further south.
Mr Walsh said that meant communities such as Kyabram had copped a double whammy – there probably won’t be Melbourne people dropping in to spend money and it is highly unlikely NSW people will be coming south.
“Northern Victoria, which has been virtually COVID-19 free because we took it seriously from the get-go, has now been dragged into the mess that the Andrews Labor Government has made of Melbourne,” he said.
“And it’s a mess now threatening all of Victoria as daily infection rates almost doubled overnight to Tuesday morning to 191 – the worst of the pandemic.
“Our thoughts go out to all those affected in Melbourne, especially those in total lockdown, but the risk we now all face is if the numbers keep expanding like this the whole state may be forced back into the same conditions.”
A Victorian Government spokesperson said the frustration in border communities was understandable.
“Premier Andrews, the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales have agreed to close the border between Victoria and New South Wales from tomorrow night,” they said on Monday.
“We know this is inconvenient, but it is being done out of an abundance of caution to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“Enforcement will be a matter for New South Wales police, but the NSW government has confirmed Victorians can apply online for exemptions to move between the two states.
“More specific details of how the closure will operate for border communities, as well as industries who need to cross the border, is being worked through.”
NSW residents will not be stopped from entering Victoria, however, will be required to apply for an exemption to return, and may be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
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