NSW-Victoria border companies call for easing restrictions and reinstatement of border bubble
In the border towns of Echuca and Moama between Victoria and New South Wales, businesses are reopening as restrictions ease on both sides of the Murray River, but residents still cannot cross the bridge, to unless it is for some essential reason.
Residents are calling for an end to strict restrictions and the reinstatement of the New South Wales-Victoria border bubble to allow them to travel freely between Echuca and Moama.
- Echuca-Moama companies demand return of previous border bubble
- Victoria-New South Wales border towns feel divided by strict restrictions
- Businesses on both sides of the river say it is not viable to trade
Paul Lavars, marketing director of the Rich River Golf Club in Moama and co-chair of the Echuca-Moama Accommodation Association, said locals would like to get their lifestyle back.
“There is a barber and a butcher, there are no banks, no gyms on the Moama side.”
The Rich River Golf Club reopened to customers on Saturday morning, but most of its customers are from Echuca and cannot cross the bridge.
“When Echuca can come, it triples our activity and it helps us stay flat and keeps us going.”
Despite this, Mr Lavars said the Rich River Golf Club was one of the lucky ones, with more relaxed restrictions, compared to businesses in Echuca.
“A lot of pubs in Echuca have decided not to open because it’s not viable to have 10 or 20 people inside.”
Once again, the Twin Cities feel divided, leaving frustrated residents calling for the reestablishment of the previous border bubble, so they can travel freely between the two cities.
“Echuca-Moama is one entity, its only community.”
“He has to come back so that we can start living as one community again. “
“We don’t know where the end is”
Gemma James, owner of Beauty Bar in Echuca, said she was very happy to return to work.
But half of his clients are in Moama.
“Even though we’ve gone back to being open, which is great, we’re still losing 50% of customers because I have half of them on each side,” Ms. James said.
Ms. James has lived in Echuca-Moama her entire life and worked as a beautician in the Twin Cities for 13 years.
“Echuca-Moama has always been the only city for me, so being literally divided by the river has been really difficult.”
During the second lockdown, Ms James decided to move her salon to her home so that she could save on company costs.
“The expense of having to go in and out of continuous lockouts, while still trying to keep paying rent, bills and all salon overhead as well… [just wasn’t working].
“It will ease the financial pressure.
Ms James is also trying to plan a November wedding in Moama, while being unable to visit the venue, which is just five minutes away.
“There was a lot of stuff there that we needed to access… or even just go to the site and watch songs for the day, but we couldn’t do it.”
In a press conference with regional media on Thursday, Regional Development Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said the essential permit system remained in place.
“People in the border bubble can only travel to New South Wales with a permit,” Ms Thomas said.