The Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Region Wendy Lovell has called for the green light to re-open regional communities that do not have a single case of COVID-19 or an exposure site in the municipality.
It is now more than 14 days since the exposure risk at the MCG and tomorrow will mark 14 days since the exposure risk at AAMI Park. Tomorrow also coincides with the timeline for a Government decision to extend or reduce the current Lockdown 5.0 severe restrictions.
Many areas of regional Victoria including the larger regional cities in the north east of Victoria, Shepparton, Wodonga, Wangaratta and Benalla have not had a single case of COVID-19 or an exposure site during the Andrews Labor Governments current state-wide lockdown 5.0.
Now that the 14 day isolation period for any Victorians attending the Football or Rugby has passed and given that there were no positive cases from these events identified in most of regional Victoria, the Premier must reward these communities by lifting restrictions to the settings announced on 23rd June which were in place immediately prior to Lockdown 5.0.
The economy, businesses and families in regional Victoria are suffering for no reason with some businesses reporting to me that Lockdown 5.0 has had more detrimental impact than any of the previous lockdowns.
Our hospitality and retail businesses, including Gyms and Dance studios should re-open, children should return to school, community sport should re-commence with spectators, recreational facilities should be allowed to open and intrastate tourism should recommence between COVID-19 free municipalities. Weddings and Funerals as well as religious ceremonies should be allowed to proceed, and families should be allowed to gather in our homes as well as visit our parents and grand-parents in aged-care facilities or loved ones in hospital.
Reducing restrictions for COVID-19 free municipalities to these levels may require some necessary tweaks to the June 23rd guidelines to ensure travel between areas with current COVID-19 cases or exposure sites is limited to medical access or emergency and end of life events. However, travel between areas with no COVID-19 cases or exposure sites should be allowed.
Regional communities like Mildura and Bendigo that have unfortunately been caught up in the current outbreak should be allowed the same freedoms as soon as their community has passed the danger period for further cases from those currently identified.
We all have empathy for our family and friends in the metropolitan area but regional communities, businesses and jobs should not be placed at risk due to COVID-19 outbreaks in the metropolitan area.