As the number of COVID cases in Victoria reached 60 on Wednesday, the Victorian State Government announced that the lockdown would continue for another seven days, but regional Victoria would have some restrictions eased.

The news comes in the wake of calls from local MPs and business owners for the government to give regional Victorians a break by applying different rules.

Businesses most impacted by the extension of the restrictions including operators in hospitality, events and creative industries, will receive further support.

The State Government is also appealing to the Federal Government to action a JobKeeper style support package for workers who have been impacted by the restrictions.

Member for Mildura, Ali Cupper, who has been calling for a variation of the restrictions to apply to regions like Mildura said: “This is exactly what we’ve been calling for.”

“I’m delighted the Government has listened. Most people in Mildura understand this is a deadly virus, it’s no hoax,” she said.

“We want to be kept safe by our government but we want the rules to be proportionate to the risk. It is counter intuitive that we would face the same restrictions as Melbourne that is 550km away when we have no cases.”
However, Ms Cupper acknowledged that “we’re not out of the woods yet”.

“And it’s not going to be easy especially for businesses still, but we are a lot better off under special regional settings than that under the same stipulations as Melbourne,” she said.

Meanwhile, Member for Mallee Anne Webster maintained her stance that regional Victoria should not have been subject to the seven-day lockdown.

“While they are now being eased, they still do not go far enough,” Dr Webster said.

“Once again local businesses in Mallee will be subject to density requirements, and others including gyms are forced to remain shut. Staff will once again have to act as police and carry the added burden of confirming a person’s address before serving them.
“I have repeatedly called for a measured and targeted approach to lockdowns, implemented locally around outbreaks as we have seen in other states.
“The blanket approach that the Victorian Labor Government is enforcing is untenable for a society, that will have to live with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future.”

Mildura Mayor Jason Modica was also delighted that some restrictions were being eased allowing businesses to open again, albeit hospitality will have some familiar limitations placed on it.

“I think it’s a culmination in some good discussions in regional Victoria” he said.

“And when everyone speaks in the same ‘tone ‘it’s good and it’s been effective but we also have to be acute in our responsibilities and make sure we’re prepared and still abiding by what we need to.
“I think there’s been a bit of commentary too about the presser that the area is quite nimble and moves quickly so we need to be aware and have things in place if we get a case and people in Melbourne need to be responsible.
“It’s wonderful though to think that the municipal states and governments are starting to work together on the same page and that will need to continue because this virus isn’t going away any time soon.”

With the Queen’s Birthday long weekend coming up at the end of next week, the Government has said that nobody can travel from Melbourne to regional Victoria for the long weekend.

This will be a blow to tourism operators, hospitality businesses and accommodation houses, who the government has said will receive some compensation for their losses.

With the Queen’s Birthday long weekend coming up at the end of next week, the Government has said that nobody can travel from Melbourne to regional Victoria for the long weekend.

This will be a blow to tourism operators, hospitality businesses and accomodation houses, who the government has said will receive some compensation for their losses.

Mildura Regional Development CEO Brett Millington said the government had taken some logic into consideration in making their decision.

“It’s a logical approach to provide regional Victoria with some relief,” he said.

“They’ll need to do some follow up testing, but regardless it’s a better approach.
They have everyone in a position of being locked down at the moment and obviously the preference would be to not have had the situation with the Queen’s Birthday weekend, but it’s logical to protect regional areas.”