The pressure is on Moama businesses as Echuca customers are shut out

By Anna McGuinness

ECHUCA-MOAMA’S local economy just got cut in half and Moama businesses in particular have seen their local economy cashflow – and Victorian tourism dollars – cut off from today.

Under tighter NSW-Victoria border restrictions, people in the twin towns bubble are only permitted to cross the Murray River for work, education and health reasons.

Moama’s My Perfect Home Rod Stone said around 50 per cent of his sales come from Victoria.

“In my situation a fairly high percentage of business is from the south – not only from Echuca but also people from any other part of the state who often holiday in NSW,” he said.

“If they’re not here, they’re not spending their money here either.

“We had a pretty good June, almost back to normal, which was great, but unfortunately it has quietened since then.

It remains unclear how long the border restrictions will be enforced, with no official announcement from the NSW Government.

“I’m worried about the next few months, because once there’s a decision that’s made about the border, there’s a fairly good chance they won’t change it for a while after that,” Mr Stone said.

“Without tourism it hits our sales a lot; and leading into a busier time of year if restrictions don’t change it concerns me what it will be like as time goes.”

MRT Automotive owner Vin McNair agreed things were starting to slow down.

“We’re having problems with customers trying to get over from Rochester, Kyabram and Tongala, so we’ve had a few cancellations and obviously the impact of parts getting over from Echuca,” he said.

“Just generally freight is so slow now. Something you’d usually get overnight takes three days at the moment.

“Because we’re a border town Echuca’s got a bit more stuff than Moama so that’s always a bit of a pain, but otherwise everything’s going along swimmingly,” he said.

Moama RSL chief executive Ashley Menzies said it would put a great deal of pressure on their business.

“We’re very well supported by our Echuca members and guests, and also visitors coming across the border, so at this stage we don’t know exactly what the impact will be,” he said.

“But we certainly understand from past experience it will have a very detrimental effect.

“Obviously we have the RSL as well as the MV Mary-Ann which has been extremely well-supported by people with a three in their postcode, so it’s going to prove very difficult for us.

“We’re mindful of the health issues which can potentially impact all of us so certainly we accept the NSW Government have seen that it’s necessary to do this, and we’ll be abiding by all their rules.”

“We just hope it doesn’t need to go on for too long,” he said.

Moama Bowling Club sales and marketing manager George Santos said the restrictions were a further hit on their business.

“It will impact us in a big way. Our club will be very slow for the duration of the lockdown,” he said.

“Up until tonight we could have guests from Echuca as cross-border residents but I think you need a good reason to cross now, which doesn’t include dinner or coming out for the night.”

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