Struggling businesses cry foul at ‘inconsistent’ Covid rules

Among restrictions to stay in place across regional Victoria, gyms are banned from opening their doors, while outdoor group classes are limited to 10 people.Cobram’s Future Fitness 24/7 owner Tayler Hocking said clients could simply drive to another gym five minutes across the border in the NSW town of Barooga.Strict conditions on Victorian border-region residents were lifted on Monday, meaning stay-at-home requirements in NSW no longer apply.It means residents in defined border communities can cross the border without restrictions, provided they have not left the border region in the previous 14 days. Once in NSW they remain prohibited from leaving the border region. Mr Hocking said it made no sense.“The rules are just so inconsistent,” he said. “We haven’t had a case in our shire for over 12 months. Not one case within the shire’s 4500 square kilometres, not one case.“If they’re trying to take a controlled approach to shutting things down, this doesn’t seem … logical at all.”Mr Hocking said he was even more frustrated by the ongoing restrictions because of his capacity to monitor every person who entered his gym.He said entry was via membership card only, meaning in the event of an outbreak he could provide contact tracers precise details of all attendees.“We can show who’s been through, how long for, we have 24-hour surveillance too, so we can see on the camera which machines they’ve touched if we need to.”He called for uniform ­restrictions for border regions.Northern Victoria Liberal MP Wendy Lovell accused the government of turning its back on small businesses.“Unfortunately with Labor’s assault on small businesses through its lockdowns, lack of adequate financial support and small business tax increases, we’re going to see more and more businesses closing down or moving interstate,” Ms Lovell said.A Department of Health spokeswoman said Victoria had worked closely with its NSW counterparts to deliver flexible border arrangements.“Restrictions are always under review based on public health risks. While regional Victoria has been under eased restrictions from June 3, there are still public health risks.”

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