Member for Mallee Anne Webster has raised concerns that the absence of a ‘ring of steel’ around Melbourne is potentially putting Mildura at risk of having a COVID outbreak.

“The inability of the Victorian State Government to enforce the ring of steel around Melbourne is putting at risk regional Victoria’s COVID-free status,” Dr Webster said.

“Reports from Mallee residents are that people living or studying in Melbourne, are travelling back into the region freely, with businesses having to play the role of police.
“I have had stories relayed back to me of family members traveling home from Melbourne on weekends, as well as hospitality businesses turning away multiple groups from Melbourne.
“While the risk of spreading COVID from these individuals is relatively low, the fact that they can freely travel from risk areas puts our regions at risk.”

Dr Webster said that this gives justification to other states to treat regional Victoria in the same category of risk as Melbourne, in terms of border lockdowns and travel restrictions. “While we haven’t had any cases for 14 months in most of Mallee, the fact that the state Labor government refuses to impose a strict, controlled ring of steel, threatens regional communities and puts the onus on regional businesses to manage travel of Melbournians,” she said.

“This is not good enough. Our businesses and their employees are already being hammered by these restrictions, and now Spring Street is willing to risk a spread to the regions through their own urban centric focus.
“The ring of steel is the responsibility of the Victorian Government. They must enforce it properly to protect the regions, and allow the regions to get back to normality immediately.”