A Wodonga shoe shop owner is irrefutable evidence of Victoria's ongoing tough COVID restrictions such as compulsory masks forcing businesses to head across the border to Albury in search of customers.
Brad Lodding from High Street's Zumii Shoes has opened a pop-up shop in Dean Street after experiencing a plummet in trade when masks became mandatory in Victoria.
Mr Lodding said the issue was real and had entered into a month-by-month lease for a shop near AMP Lane.
"We just don't have the customers coming through the door," he said.
"The only people we are getting through the door are the ones who definitely need to buy something.
"There is no passing traffic, none of the browsers we normally get, we've noticed a huge drop off.
"If they are not coming to us, we have to go to them."
Mr Lodding said when masks were introduced trade dropped between 30 to 40 per cent and hasn't recovered.
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In the weeks beforehand when the hard border closure was in place his trade increased.
But his biggest fear is when the border re-opens on Monday even more customers will flock to Albury to avoid wearing masks as temperatures rise.
"We had this spike, which was terrific, then the masks came in," he said.
"We had to bite the bullet.
"I don't know what is happening in the plaza, but there just aren't the people in the street at the moment."
He has employed four additional staff to run the Albury shop.
Wodonga Council chief executive Mark Dixon said it had been pushing the case for a more level playing field for businesses.
"We are optimistic of a relaxing of restrictions this weekend, that allow our businesses to more fairly compete with their Albury counterparts," he said.
"The state continues to enjoy zero new cases and we have been COVID-free for more than 110 days.
"Now is the time to recognise our unique cross-border challenges and stop penalising Wodonga businesses by allowing separate restrictions on either side of the river.
"We need a consistent approach to COVID response and recovery, where our two states work together on common guidelines for restrictions linked to evidence-based preventative health requirements."
Premier Daniel Andrews has flagged changes to mask rules, but doubts exist on the extent they will change.