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Industry labels Victoria border closure ‘disappointing’

The border between NSW and Victoria is now closed for the first time since 1919.
Image: The Guardian

Three major accommodation and travel industry associations have labelled the closure of the borders, restricting Victoria’s access to both NSW and the ACT as ‘disappointing’ but understandable and necessary.

The moves to seal off access to NSW at 55 different crossing points across the Victorian border come following a significant and sustained spike in COVID-19 cases which has seen Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, send metropolitan Melbourne into Stage 3 lockdown for a minimum of six weeks. Intrastate holidays are off the cards, with the state government offering to reimburse regional accommodation providers up to $225 per cancelled night if it cannot be recovered.

Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long, said the decision to close the border highlighted the seriousness of the challenge in containing the virus.

“While the decision to shut down the Victorian-NSW border is disappointing given we were all hoping life was getting back to normal, we understand and support the decision,” Long said.

L-R Dean Long, AAoA and Michael Johnson, TAA

“We would also like to extend our thanks to those who are on the frontline battling the pandemic and working long hours to stop the spread and support those who have unfortunately been infected.”

Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO, Michael Johnson, said that while health was paramount, the latest blow to the sector amplified calls for the JobKeeper program to be extended into 2021.

“Health is obviously paramount and the industry has always put the health of staff and customers first ever since COVID-19 hit our shores – we continue to do so,” he said.

“Unfortunately, this border closure between our two largest states means many hotels which were already on the brink will struggle even further.

“It shows the very real need for JobKeeper to be extended to protect the hundreds of thousands of jobs in the hospitality sector.”

While accommodation providers were clearly doing it tough, travel agents which had shifted their focus to domestic holidays were also due to take a hit from the border closure. Australian Federation of Travel Agents CEO, Darren Rudd, said the organisation will continue to work collaboratively and constructively with governments at all levels to navigate these challenging times.

“We acknowledge that the primary focus of Government and Health Authorities is protecting lives and containing the spread, whilst also re-booting the economy in a sensible way,” Rudd said.

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