CALL it coincidence or a diversionary tactic from a state leader in the hot seat, but there is no escaping the reality of NSW being a long way down the road to a COVID normal than its southern neighbour, Victoria.
On the day following her appearance at an ICAC hearing where Gladys Berejiklian let loose a bombshell revelation about her personal relationship with the former MP at the centre of the hearing, the NSW Premier opened up her state even more with increased patron numbers in outdoor areas of pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants and significant crowds being allowed back to outdoor seated music events from Friday.
On a local level, Albury is getting to the other side of the pandemic way quicker than Wodonga, which remains hinged to the Victorian government's contentious, overly ambitious road map.
The Border Mail revealed on Tuesday the economic hit to a Wodonga motel which was forced to pay more in rates following a revaluation in the new year before coronavirus produced a hammer blow to its income stream with the tough restrictions imposed by a Victorian government still trying to rein in the virus second wave.
Belvoir Village Motel has had its trade and income slashed by 72 per cent and owner Lloyd Deane is convinced he is not alone.
There is no dispute Wodonga is redeveloping on a strong trajectory, but what also can't be undersold is how tough it has been for the city's businesses, particularly those in the central parts, in the last two years.
They have encountered major disruption from High Street upgrade works in addition to reduced spending capacity stemming from drought, bushfires and then COVID.
The disparity in the COVID restrictions levels compared to Albury is growing wider with each passing week.
Did someone mention masks?
Wodonga is in the midst of a council election and the focus on the business recovery must be the No.1 priority for each of the 19 candidates seeking office.
It's a real possibility the seven candidates elected will be wrestling with some huge calls come budget time next year if things don't change soon.