Covid rules force NSW funerals, weddings and gym goers to move to Canberra

F45 Training trainers, Bereket Haile and Dan Walshe having to wear masks due to NSW Covid restrictions. Picture: Elesa Kurtz
F45 Training trainers, Bereket Haile and Dan Walshe having to wear masks due to NSW Covid restrictions. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Weddings and funerals are being switched from New South Wales to Canberra because of its laxer anti-Covid rules. And New South Wales gym customers are migrating to ACT gyms so they don't have to wear masks.

The switch of business across the border has prompted Eden-Monaro MP Kristy McBain to call on Canberrans to remember those in the wider region. "Shop local," she said, urging people to get out and spend in the ACT's NSW hinterland.

The disparity of rules on either side of a border, which seems barely existent most of the time, has prompted changed plans by bereaved families.

The minister of St Andrews Presbyterian Church in Forrest said he had just received a request to hold a funeral there because masks would be required in Queanbeyan, where the person died.

He said a wedding had been switched from New South Wales.

"If they come to St Andrews, they will be able to sing," the Reverend David Campbell said. At the equivalent church in Queanbeyan (where the person had died), masks at funerals remained compulsory.

And gym owners said customers were shifting from Queanbeyan to Fyshwick where masks weren't compulsory during work-outs.

F45 Training is 300 metres from the ACT border, and its owner, Pip De Vries, said customers were transferring to gyms in the ACT because of the mask rule.

She was angry because her business was badly hit by the lockdowns last year and they were getting back to strength.

"It feels like deja vu. It happened last year and we had to fight so hard to get it back and now it seems harder."

Last year, there seemed to be an end in sight, she said.

The hit to regional New South Wales prompted Kristy McBain MP for Eden-Monaro to call on Canberrans to help.

"I urge Canberrans to get out. We need your support to get through this lockdown."

She questioned the "one size fits all" policy of the NSW government to impose tough rules throughout the state even where there were no infections.

"I don't think there's been a real understanding by government of the interdependence of Canberra and Michelago, Queanbeyan, Yass, Bungendore, Murrumbateman, Bredbo. All largely come to Canberra for work and sports," she said.

The Reverend Campbell was also bemused by the differences in regulations between regional NSW around Canberra and inside the ACT itself.

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"I understand why there is a lockdown in Sydney," he said. "I haven't seen my grandson there for two months, but why do those tight restrictions apply to Queanbeyan which is a suburb of Canberra?"

There are other anomalies. Passengers on Queanbeyan buses in the ACT are expected to wear masks while passengers on ACT buses aren't.

Masks were "a bit annoying", according to Madison Corbin of On Point Hair on Monaro Street in the middle of Queanbeyan. The hairdresser gave customers special disposable masks when she was applying colouring.

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This story NSW stricter anti-Covid rules are bringing more business to the ACT first appeared on The Canberra Times.