A cross-border dance instructor has hit out at South Australia's decision to lock out residents of regional NSW, after the "arbitrary" closure left most of her troupe unable to travel to the state.
Kym Degenhart, the director of Bom Funk Studio in Jerrabomberra, was due to take a group of eight dancers to the Follow Your Dreams national dance championships in Adelaide from January 6 to 16.
The teenage troupe has been training for the competition for months, even practicing via Zoom when COVID-19 restrictions forced the studio to shut.
Many had stayed in the area over Christmas to avoid travelling to any place that could retrospectively become a coronavirus hotspot.
But their dreams were dealt a blow when South Australia shut its border to all NSW residents on New Year's Day.
Students who live in the ACT can still travel to South Australia, meaning two of the eight dancers can still attend the competition.
Ms Degenhart said the reason for border closure had been tough to explain to students, given the closest coronavirus case was hundreds of kilometres away.
It was also difficult for them to comprehend why students in Canberra were being treated differently to those who lived a kilometre over the border.
"I think if ACT had also been locked out, they would completely understand the situation, you know, the safety of everyone is obviously first and foremost," Ms Degenhart said.
"But Jerrabomberra feels like an extended suburb of Canberra. It's just been really difficult for them to comprehend the reason why they can't attend."
South Australia has vowed to keep its border shut to NSW until there are 14 days of no new locally acquired cases.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged there was "terrible frustration" with the border closures.
"I would love it if there was a hotspot approach followed right across the country," he told 2BG on Tuesday,
"Right now, Queensland is following that approach in relation to NSW. That's a bit of a change from what we saw last year. So they're only looking at people coming from Sydney.
"That's the same for Tasmania. That's the same for Northern Territory. That's the same for the ACT. WA, Victoria and South Australia are taking a different approach."
Ms Degenhart said a hotspot model - where with a higher proportion of coronavirus cases faced heightened restrictions - made "a lot more sense" for regional areas.
She lost hundreds of students last year, as she could only have 20 students in a class at a time. It was a different story over the border in the ACT.
"I know a number of studios who are based in Hume, which is, you know, three kilometres away from us, who have thrived this year, and numbers and enrollments have increased, whereas we lost 200 students in 2020. So yeah, every everyone's feeling it over this side of the border, I think it's been quite a struggle," Ms Degenhart said.
Ms Degenhart believed part of the problem was decisions were being made in a city-centric way.
"A lot of the decisions that have been made over this last year have focused on the main capital cities, where there's a large population. And so regional areas like us have been affected by those decisions even though we're not seeing the same impacts of COVID," she said.
"Australia is such a big country and it's very different from one end of the state to the other. So yeah, I think [a hotspot approach] would be the best model to adopt. Because COVID is not going away. It didn't stop the second 2021 come along. We're going to continue battling this and small business owners are going to have to continue to adapt."