A peak business body has called for the immediate cancellation of the Victoria-NSW border closure as Albury-Wodonga residents encounter massive delays on day one of the major operation.
The Australian Industry Group believes the decision taken by the Victorian government to lockdown Melbourne for six weeks from midnight last night meant border closures were no longer needed.
It argues the border closure put in place on Monday to prevent the spread of coronavirus from the city is an unnecessary duplication at a time when regional businesses had only just started the rebuild from earlier shutdowns.
"The shutdown of Melbourne overnight leaves the way clear for the immediate re-opening of the border between NSW and Victoria," AIG regional manager Tim Farrah said.
"Logic dictates that with the removal of the bulk of the cross-border health risk removed with the extensive stay-at-home orders in Melbourne that the border with NSW can now be re-opened and barricades removed.
"There will be no loss of face politically as the situation has fundamentally changed with the six week lock-down and the border closure was meant to be temporary."
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Wodonga residents are the hardest hit by the border closure.
Many experienced traffic delays of up to two hours and removal of the border closure is supported by the city's mayor, Anna Speedie, who fielded her first call about traffic dramas at 6.10am yesterday.
"Yes it would be the simplest solution," she said.
"The lockdowns are in place for a reason so potentially once that lockdown is in force around Melbourne absolutely it is something we are putting on the table very firmly."
But Albury mayor Kevin Mack was more cautious on the move based on the first coronavirus cases in the Albury Woodnga Health region for more than three months coinciding with the border closure announcement.
"Community transmission is in Albury because people went to Melbourne," he said.
"We need the people who have been to Melbourne go and get tested.
"Get us back to zero, get us back to no more community infection and then deal with potentially a two to three week period (of border closure)."
But the first day of border closure coincided with NSW Premier Gladys Berijiklian doubling down on the issue.
"We ask NSW residents in border communities not to travel to other parts of NSW unless it's absolutely necessary," she said.
"Residents across NSW should also avoid going to those border communities at this time."
Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Michael Kalimnios said there was no evidence of COVID-19 community transmission "in our region at the moment" in providing an update on the two Lavington-based cases from the same household and another in Wodonga.
"Clearly one of the residents of the household did visit Melbourne before the lockdown occurred," he said.
"The household is quarantining at the moment in accordance with normal protocols and policy.
"It does seem their contact has been limited.
"We are pretty confident at this stage there hasn't been any broader community transmission."
The health chief also clarified details of the unrelated Wodonga case.
"It appears that this case is simply someone who has got an address in Wodonga, but is actually not residing in Wodonga," he said.
"They are actually in Melbourne so it doesn't impact locally in terms of their contact anywhere in the local region."
Cr Speedie said she had relayed community concerns about initial border closure arrangements to two Victorian Government ministers, Jaclyn Symes and Jacinta Allan.
"Unfortunately today started off as we expected with complete frustration and chaos," she said.
"We absolutely need to find solutions because this is absolutely untenable for our community."
Mr Farrah said businesses in low-risk regional Victoria and NSW areas should be allowed to go about their work as normal.
"The health risk can be far more easily managed in the regions than the cities and the response should be differentiated accordingly," he said.
"With the economy already struggling and high rates of reported mental health issues, any measure that can be taken to free up restrictions must be taken.
"Despite the best intentions the border closure has led to massive traffic jams and huge disruptions to border communities and this can be ended immediately and reviewed at the end of Melbourne's six week lock-down."
"Government's need to be flexibile and logical in their approach to the pandemic."