Cr Speedie said residents on either side of the border should be free to access local services, jobs and see family rather than be forced to stay on one side of the border.
While the new case was only the second in Wodonga and the first within three months in the area, Cr Speedie said the community had previously done well in observing isolation rules when required.
“People isolated and have done the right thing,” she said. “This community is good at making sure we’re looking after our own.”
Business owners in the area hit out at the Andrews government’s handling of the border closure, saying they weren’t consulted and are paying for a problem in Melbourne.
When commercial real estate agent Scott Mann heard about the closure, his first thought was to rush to Service NSW to get travel permits that would allow him and his employees to continue to cross the border.
Though he and his staff all live in Albury – on the NSW side of the border – his business, AW Commercial Real Estate, operates out of Wodonga, on the Victorian side.
He estimates that he crosses the north-east Victorian border – which runs along the Murray River – up to 30 times a week.
When he got to the state government agency Service NSW after Monday’s announcement by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, he was told to first lodge an application online and then told he would have to wait a few days because the website doesn’t yet exist.
“For the life of me, I can’t work why they didn’t establish the radius closer to Melbourne,” he said.
“It’s regional Australia and regional Victoria paying the price for a problem that’s in the city.
“It’s regional Australia and regional Victoria paying the price for a problem that’s in the city.”
Commercial builder Scott Mann
“It’s going to have a dramatic impact on businesses on the local level here. A huge impact that shouldn’t exist had they put a more appropriate travel radius in place.”
The greater Albury-Wodonga area has a combined population of around 100,000, with several thousand people travelling back and forth each day.
Mr Mann warned of potential delays at the border, with authorities checking crossing permits and many people forced to cross several times a day, will have a negative impact on productivity and ultimately cash flow.
Peter Barlow, the owner of Albury-Wodonga business Office Choice, agreed.
“I’d prefer them to put a big fence around Melbourne and leave us alone up here,” he said.
“I’m a little amazed at the decision – I don’t see why they couldn’t do a bubble instead.”
“Our store is in Wodonga and we have as many clients in Albury as we have in Wodonga.”
I’d prefer them to put a big fence around Melbourne and leave us alone up here.
Albury business owner Peter Barlow
He said he hadn’t heard anything about the border closure before it happened and still couldn’t find a way to apply for a trading permit online.
He said someone walked into the store and asked him if he had heard the news about the border closure.
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David Estcourt is a court and general news reporter at The Age.
Benjamin is a state political reporter