Footy finals festivities at Albury pubs and clubs are back on with the city's COVID-19 lockdown ending earlier than scheduled at midnight.
Venues sweating on rebooting in preparation for the AFL grand final and NRL preliminary finals this weekend feared the worst when a fourth coronavirus case was recorded in Albury early yesterday.
Sodens Hotel owner Brendan Tracey said preparations to come out of lockdown had been put on hold when the new case was reported.
But he welcomed the late afternoon confirmation the seven-day lockdown had been ended a day earlier by the NSW government.
"I'd spoken to a few places around town and people were starting to get everything out of freezers ready to go and then they put it all back in again," he said.
"We were fearing the worst because the precedent had been set by closing us down with one case before.
"We will be ready to go now we've got the green light."
SS&A Club chief executive Gerard Darmody said he was hopeful of a reopening ahead of the weekend despite the emergence of another case.
"We're very happy to be open again to welcome back members and guests to the club and we look forward to a busy grand final weekend," he said.
"We're very pleased to have the doors open again."
IN OTHER NEWS
Albury's lockdown ending follows the decision to scrap permits for travel in the border bubble.
Wodonga residents had previously been unable to attend a pub or club in Albury under rules imposed by the Victorian government.
Albury was still classed by the Victorian government as an extreme risk zone during its latest lockdown.
But a downgrade to red zone, enabling travel without the need for a permit, will require the sign-off of Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.
A decision is expected early today.
Victorian pubs have reopened, but they are dealing with strict patron caps of only 10 people indoors and 20 people outdoors whereas they can operate under the one person per four square metre rule indoors and the one person per two square metre rule outdoors.
The same applies to gyms and and indoor sporting facilities.
The one person per four square metre rule also applies to retail stores, beauticians and hairdressers.
But dancing is off-limits at indoor venues such as pubs and nightclubs.
Member for Albury Justin Clancy said a lot was resting on the fourth case in the current outbreak.
"It's been a rollercoaster of a day," he said.
"Up until 9am this morning I was pretty optimistic we would be coming out of this lockdown, but until this afternoon I had been pretty pessimistic.
"Hats off to the contact tracing team, they have obviously worked hard to identify the details of the case.
"I'm grateful for that and they would have known there was a lot of concern from the community in that regard.
"We are still in challenging times and I've got no doubt we still carry risk going forward from here.
"That is difficult for businesses, but getting doors open again is such an important thing."
The Albury lockdown ending is also a welcome move for children on school holidays staring at the grim prospect of another week stuck at home.
Under NSW government rules, Albury residents can again have up to five visitors in your home at any one time whereas in Wodonga no visitors are permitted to your home.
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