Wodonga hospitality business are at a disadvantage compared to their NSW-Victorian border counterparts in Albury because of the federal government's preferential treatment towards NSW with vaccine supply, according to the Victorian Deputy Premier.
NSW pubs, clubs and restaurants can have more patrons than those south of the NSW-Victorian border battling to remain viable with only 10 people indoors and 30 outdoors even though they successfully opened after previous lockdowns with the four square metre rule.
The gap in operating conditions on the border is going to hit harder when NSW achieves 70 and 80 per cent double dose rates quicker, coinciding with the lead-up to festive season celebrations.
James Merlino said on Thursday that NSW was treated more favourably when cases peaked in that state.
"NSW has had the ability to issue more vaccines by being delivered more vaccines by the Commonwealth," he said.
"The pathway through this pandemic is getting to those vaccination targets.
"But for our border towns, who are in reality one community, by virtue of having a different speed if you like in terms of how quickly we can to the 70 and 80 per cent, means for a short period of time you do have that imbalance.
"We're not that far away, get the jab, follow the rules and we will very quickly get to those national plan targets."
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Member for Benambra Bill Tilley said the disparity in patron caps on the border wasn't justified.
"It's resulted in an exodus of staff across the river and left businesses on the edge of the abyss without this Labor government ever showing us a shred of medical evidence to justify it," he said.
"Now to be told 'hold on, we're almost there', 70 per cent is just a month away, is an insult.
"Do you think Stacey and Michael at Church Street are jumping for joy that they will be able to go to 30 people indoors as long as they are fully vaccinated.
"Same for Huon Hill, the Birallee, Eddies Tavern, the Blazing Stump or Goods Shed
"Whoever is dreaming this up might want to pick up a phone and talk to our restaurants, our pubs, our cafes and hospitality in general.
"The Victorian government is playing politics, playing the blame game, blaming the feds for the vaccine rollout, blaming grand final parties, blaming the people of Victoria, blaming whoever they can.
"We've had the Premier finally admit the vaccines are here, that they can cut the time between doses to three weeks .
"That was the case last week, but they were simply playing politics and we are the collateral damage."
Mr Merlino had sympathy for hospitality businesses in his state, but added the public health team led by Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton wanted to take a cautious path out.
"I know people love to go to their local pub, local cafe, restaurants, everyone wants to get back to four square metre density and then even further as we get to those vaccination (targets)," Mr Merlino said.
"It's tough right now, it's tough for the publicans and their businesses, it's tough for communities who want to meet their friends and support their local businesses.
"But the advice from our public health team has been really clear.
"We need to take positive, but cautious steps as we ease.
"These are the choices, advice we are getting from public health."