Shepparton tourism sector suffering from Victoria-NSW border closure

By Madi Chwasta

The Victoria-NSW border will be closed from midnight Tuesday to stop the spread of coronavirus.

But Shepparton tourism operators say they are already feeling the impact.

Quest Shepparton property manager Michael De Maria said he'd had three cancellations from NSW travellers yesterday.

Mr De Maria said Quest also had cancellations last week from travellers who lived in Melbourne COVID-19 ``hotspot” postcodes.

He said he was concerned about the long-term effect of the border closures.

“But at the same time, we understand the safety of our staff and guests is paramount,” he said.

Victoria Lake Holiday Park also confirmed it had cancellations from NSW travellers.

Shepparton Chamber of Commerce and Industry president John Anderson said closing the border would inflict another blow on Shepparton's economy — and not just the tourism sector.

“The tourist and hospitality industries are the ones that are hit the hardest,” Mr Anderson said.

“But Shepparton gets a lot of shopping from NSW, and not just retail.

“We have a number of farming and machinery industries that rely on farming communities.”

He said people in southern NSW also needed to access healthcare in Greater Shepparton, and would require permits to enter Victoria.

Greater Shepparton City Council's sustainable development director Geraldine Christou said the council was working with the Victorian Government to understand the ramifications of the border closure and would continue supporting local industries.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said people could apply for a permit through Service NSW from Tuesday, including for work or to access healthcare.

But she asked border communities for "patience" as it would take two to three days to get the system in place.

Ms Berejiklian said she wouldn't put a time limit on how long the borders would be closed.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the closure would be enforced on the NSW side from 11.59 pm Tuesday.

He said there would be delays getting over the border for the first three days while it was decided who classified as essential workers.

“In the first 72 hours from midnight Tuesday this week, it will be difficult — not impossible, but difficult to make that crossing,” he said.

Mr Fuller said the operation would be carried out by NSW Police with assistance from the Department of Defence, and later from other emergency services.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the border closure was a joint decision made by him, the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday morning.

“All of us agreed the best thing to do would be to close the border,” Mr Andrews said.

Mr Andrews said it would be enforced on the NSW side, which would free up Victorian resources.

The closure comes after 127 coronavirus cases were diagnosed in Victoria — the largest daily increase in the state since the start of the pandemic.

Greater Shepparton has one active case of the virus and Mitchell Shire has eight.

Benalla Rural City, and the Campaspe, Strathbogie and Moira shires do not have any active cases.

A man in his 90s and a man in his 60s have died from the virus, taking the Victorian death toll to 22.

There are now 31 people in hospital, with five in intensive care.

The number of people with an active case of the virus is 645.

More than 952 000 people in Victoria have been tested for coronavirus to date.

Goulburn Valley Health chief executive Matt Sharp said there were no inpatients at the hospital with the virus.

He said people with symptoms of COVID-19 could be tested between 10 am and 5.15 pm at Goulburn Valley Health or at Princes Park Clinic in Shepparton.