ON Monday morning the Premier announced that regional Victoria would be coming out of the snap lockdown imposed last Thursday, leaving people in the regions to wake up Tuesday morning to freedom again and to being able to get the kids off to school.
Anne Webster welcomed the Premier’s announcement, saying it was a great win for regional Victorians who have been unjustly hurt by state-wide lockdowns.
“The announcement from the Premier that the regional Victorian lockdown will be lifted from midnight rights a wrong for regional communities,” she said.
“This lockdown was based on incorrect data and should have been lifted much sooner. We have suffered under unnecessary and disproportionate lockdowns over the last 16 months. The State
Government must learn from its past actions and realise it needs to treat the regions with more respect and consideration.
“Regional communities have shown they are willing to comply and assist in testing and tracing and lockdown, when required, but not when there is no evidence of COVID in our communities.
“On the weekend I wrote to the Premier urging him to lift the lockdown in regional communities. It is a great result to see it lifted today. I also urged him to put a ring of steel around Melbourne or the localised areas where COVID is present.
“The only way for regional Victoria businesses and communities to survive the pandemic is for the government to adopt a targeted measured approach, and for everyone to get out, roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated.”
Member for Mildura Ali Cupper was obviously delighted to see the lockdown lifted and she hopes it sets a precedent.
“It’s a good precedent to set. I think to have that opportunity for the regions to come out of lockdown early if the medical advice supports it, then that is an incredibly positive development,” she said.
“I hope this is now going to be the ‘go-to’ approach from now on. The Government’s over arching approach has been not to keep anyone in lockdown for a moment longer than they need to be and so this is how it should work.
“We were delighted when the news came through. It’s going to be good for our business community, it’s great for our students and our community sport and so I think we all have something to celebrate in the context of COVID.
“We are not delighted in the truest sense of the word however, because we never know what’s around the corner. But, I think it’s important for our own stamina to give ourselves permission to at least feel some positivity when we come out of these lockdown.”
Ms Cupper said that we are living in an environment of rolling lockdowns where this is the only way to prevent mass casualties in the event of a massive outbreak of this virus.
“The one thing that we can cling to based on the medical advice that I’ve seen, is that if we can get to an 80 per cent vaccination level or a high level of vaccination in our community – which can’t happen right now because we don’t have the supplies – but when they do roll in, people in Victoria are highly motivated to get vaccinated including here in our community.
“At that point the lockdowns are either not going to happen or they will be much rarer and currently the advice is that we will be there by Christmas.”
Victorian Nationals Leader Peter Walsh also weighed in saying that the regions maybe out of lockdown, but not out of the woods.
“We’ve finally been delivered the news every regional Victorian needed to hear,” he said.
“With no active cases or exposure sites in regional Victoria, families, small business owners and communities have been pleading for common sense.
“It means our kids are back in the classroom, that our pubs, coffee shops, beauty services and retail stores can reopen and that loved ones can again gather for the moments where we need connection the most – at weddings, funerals and religious ceremonies.”
Mr Walsh said that it was the lockdown regional Victoria didn’t need to have. “Lifting the regional lockdown is the right thing to do but it comes four days too late for many Victorians,”he said.
Speaking on Monday the Premier said that one of the most important things regional Victorians can do as we ease restrictions is to get themselves vaccinated to protect their family, friends, and their community.
“Eligible Victorians can book in at one of 50 open access sites across the state, through a Commonwealth clinic or their trusted GP,” he said.
“There have been no new coronavirus cases in regional Victoria and thousands of primary close contacts have been cleared from the regions over the last few weeks.
“The Chief Health Officer has advised that the five reasons to leave the home will be removed in regional Victoria and there will be no limit on the distance regional Victorians can travel from home.
“However, people will only be able to travel to Melbourne for a permitted reason and you must follow the Melbourne restrictions once there.”
Importantly, private gatherings in the home are still not permitted, however, outdoor gatherings in public spaces can occur with up to 10 people. Face masks are still mandatory indoors and outdoors.
All regional Victorians need to continue with their COVIDSafe behaviours – most importantly to get tested immediately if they have any symptoms at all and get vaccinated if it’s their turn.
To book a vaccination at one of Victoria’s state-run clinics visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au/book-your-vaccine-appointment.
As the ‘Weekly went to press at midday Thursday this was the state-of-play. Last week however, at 5pm the Premier called another snap lockdown, making it the sixth news that we couldn’t deliver in the paper. Who knows when lockdown seven will hit us?