Small-business owners slam border closures

Small-business owners are vehemently opposing the recent moves to enforce border closures along the New South Wales-Queensland border.

Business owners say this new policy has effectively locked them out on their own premises despite the supposed intent of the closures to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic within and between the two states. Alongside the ongoing problems they are facing due to the pandemic, they say that this policy has made it tougher for them to run a business interstate.

The border closure has severely affected businesses based near the border, among them fashion designer Fleur Richardson of Leina & Fleur who lives 10 minutes south of the border in the NSW town Terranora.

“I’m in a state of shock. I thought there would be a voice of reason, especially with zero cases within the Tweed Shire,” Richardson said. “Our fabric cutter had a permit but was told by a police officer at a border checkpoint ‘You might think your business is essential but the government doesn’t’, before being ordered to turn around. 

“That’s a very skilled job, he can’t just be replaced. And so in the meantime our very expensive technology sits idle.”

Leina & Fleur employs 22 people, is a COVID-safe business, and has done everything they can to keep their staff safe, according to Richardson, but all to no avail.

“Five staff are caught on the wrong side of the border and those are skilled jobs,” Richardson bemoaned. “To think we could potentially be locked out until December, until Christmas it’s a nightmare”.

Businesses were initially told they could apply for a permit to cross the border. However, restrictions have been tightened in determining who gets such permits. Richardson relates that when she applied for a permit, her industry wasn’t even listed, the form was incredibly vague and her application is simply ‘pending’.

“I’m fully vaccinated, but what is the point? We are being penalised harshly when it could be reasonably resolved for a large population of complying border residents and business owners if the bubble was reopened,” Richardson concluded.