Councillor Amanda Cohn, who voted in favour of the motion, said allowing the Storm to use council facilities would be a “slap in the face” to the rest of the Albury community.
“This is an unacceptable double standard that this proposal provides our community,” Cohn said.
“Many of our residents have made tremendous sacrifices to keep the infection rate so low. People have lost their jobs, people have lost their businesses, people are unable to participate in their own community sport.
“They’re unable to attend weddings and funerals and it’s a slap in the face to people that have been doing the right thing for weeks, to then allow 50 people from Melbourne to come and use our public facilities with the same rules not applying to them.”
The club will now train at the ground privately owned by Albury Tigers, as the Victorian government has denied the club’s application to train at its usual base at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.
Cohn also said the Storm provided a heightened risk of a spike in infections in the community.
“I’m not willing to risk the lives of vulnerable patients, especially given recent news regarding other clubs, with due respect to the Melbourne Storm,” she said.
“Even if those rules are followed, you’re accepting some risk of a cluster outbreak in Albury among the Melbourne Storm team and their support staff.
“The burden that would place on our local health system and putting our local healthcare workers at risk is not a risk I am willing to accept.”
While the welcome has been far from warm for the Storm in Albury, the Warriors have already made Tamworth their second home.
The club was also buoyed by news on Tuesday that a “bubble” between Australia and New Zealand could be established just a few weeks after the NRL restarts on May 28.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison emerged from a trans-national cabinet meeting on Tuesday and immediately flagged the potential for Australians to travel to New Zealand and vice-versa.
Morrison said the opening of state borders was likely to coincide with the opening of the trans-Tasman border.
“At some point, both Australia and New Zealand will start connecting with the rest of the world again and the most obvious place to start is between Australia and New Zealand,” he said. “We can see that happening but it’s not something that is about to start next week … when we are able to see Australians travel from Melbourne to Cairns, at that time, with everything being equal, we will be able to fly from Melbourne to Auckland or Christchurch.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was similarly optimistic about borders re-opening.
“Simply, the position I would take on behalf of New Zealand is when we feel comfortable and confident that we both won’t receive cases from Australia and equally, we won’t export them, it will be the time to move,” she said.
New Zealand has taken a much stricter stance on coronavirus protocol and has subsequently recorded no new cases in the past 48 hours.
Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.