The Border Closure At Tweed Heads Is Choking Australian Surf Business - Stab Mag

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The Border Closure At Tweed Heads Is Choking Australian Surf Business

There will be flow on effects.

news // Aug 24, 2021
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 2 minutes

To the north of Boundary Street in Tweed Heads is Queensland, to its south is New South Wales. On either side is Australia’s surf industry hub, home to the biggest board manufacturing factories in the country including Sharpeye Surfboards, JS Industries, Pyzel, Lost, Album, Chilli, Channel Islands, and so on. 

Normally these border businesses function as one harmonious organism, fluidly trafficking blanks, boards, fiberglass, and employees across these imaginary lines without ado. Unless it is State of Origin or a pandemic, which side of these imaginary lines you live on does not matter. However, for the past two weeks, the imaginary lines have become all too real.

Following the QLD government’s hard lockdown on inter-state activity, major operational barriers for businesses and employees have been caused. The Queensland state government on Friday extended border restrictions to all of NSW except for local government areas along the Queensland border. Further, essential workers attempting to enter from NSW must have had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine from Friday 20 August, including emergency and health authorities.

Liam Geale, who works out of The Glass Lab in Tweed Heads where they build Sharpeye, Chilli, ACSOD and other labels explained that even pathology specimens and results have had to be passed by hands over the border for testing. “The border closure doesn’t directly affect anyone to the north of the Gold Coast, or anyone south of Byron,” he says, “but it’s completely changed the way we operate…”

The area around the Tweed and Coolangatta is densely concentrated with surf business, glass houses, shaping bays and retailers who employ people from both sides of the border. 

“Guys who own factories over the border who can’t enter the businesses they’ve owned for twenty years, and they can’t literally access them. We had to put a call out for board-builders on this side offering work because we’re so busy at the moment. But it’s affected more than just the surf industry, it’s just limited availability of employees and a massive strain on operations for everyone, cafes and shops included. Businesses rely so heavily on people from the area, and the imaginary borderline divides it right down the middle.”

“The delays in manufacturing and turnaround time will have a flow-on effect that affects people all over. Stores around Australia are calling and asking for more boards on the daily. I’m saying ‘we will do our absolute best for you guys, just give us a few days to work out how we can navigate this situation’”.  

With PM Scott Morrisson’s announcement that lockdown will be lifted once 70% of the population is vaccinated, (it now sits roughly at 30.9% fully vaccinated), only time will tell when the border restrictions ease. 

But if you’re expecting a freshie, maybe don’t hold your breath.


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