August 6, 2020
 

As the number of coronavirus cases in Victoria continues on an upward trend, the state government has announced further restrictions to the ways in which we live and work, and new measures to try to stop the spread of the virus.

 

Face masks are now mandatory across Victoria whenever you leave your home. I understand that many people in our communities might have difficulty sourcing a mask or affording one, so I am working with a range of wonderful individuals and organisations to develop a supply of masks at my office and in communities across our region. There have been many donations and offers of support, and I am so grateful to everyone who has supported this initiative so far. It makes me extremely proud to see the way our community is banding together in a time of need. More information about this initiative and how people in need can access a mask is below.

 

Today regional Victoria returned to stage 3 “stay at home” restrictions, which means there will be only four permitted reasons for people to leave home:

  • to access necessary goods or services
  • for medical care or compassionate reasons
  • exercise
  • work and education, if necessary

Further detail about new restrictions is below.

 

There are ongoing issues stemming from South Australia’s hard border closure to Victorians, and I and my team are doing our very best to help people with enquiries relating to this. I understand how difficult the border situation is for those who need to travel to South Australia for supplies, work, medical care and other essential reasons, and I am continuing to work closely with the Cross Border Commissioner, SA Health, SA Police and the South Australian Government to ensure these issues are raised and addressed.

 

I understand this is a very unsettling and uncertain time for many people. I encourage you to reach out for support if you need it, keep in contact with family and friends, and ensure you remain connected and engaged. This pandemic has presented many challenges, but our generosity, strength and resilience have continued to shine through.

We are – and will continue to be – in this together.

 

Emma

 

MASKS

A face mask or face covering is now mandatory across Victoria when you are outside your home.

I have joined forces with a local resident, Arnna Pickering from Evoke Kinesiology, who had the fantastic idea of developing a supply of masks that could be given to elderly and vulnerable people in Lowan communities who were unable to source one or could not afford to buy one.

I put out a call on my Facebook page for anyone who could make masks or donate them, and the response was amazing.

I now have a supply of masks at my electorate office in Horsham that can be posted out to residents, and some wonderful volunteers are co-ordinating stock for their respective communities.

If you or someone you know needs a mask, please contact my office on 5382 0097 or email emma.kealy@parliament.vic.gov.au and we can arrange to post one to you, or let you know your closest community collection point.

 

RESTRICTIONS

In addition to the restrictions above, there is also an additional restriction that applies to meat processing businesses, which mandates a reduction in the number of workers onsite at a given business by one third. I have called for an exemption for small regional abattoirs for whom this reduction would make their business unviable.

More information about restrictions is available here.
 

SCHOOLS AND CHILDCARE

Victorian students returned to flexible and remote learning on Wednesday, with the exception of students with additional needs who attend specialist schools.

Similar to the previous period of remote learning, students in regional Victoria who have no other option but to attend school will be able to, but the government has advised that this option only exists for working parents or guardians and should be discussed directly with your school. 

Childcare centres will remain open in regional Victoria.

I would like to give a big shout out to all students, parents and teachers who are embarking on the remote learning journey once more. I know it can be really hard, so please be kind to yourselves. We’re all in this together, so let’s just try our best and make sure we all get out the other side.

 

CROSS-BORDER TRAVEL
South Australia
The South Australian Government has strengthened border restrictions since my previous update, with the definition of an essential traveller becoming increasingly narrow. People residing in cross-border communities who have a permit may only travel 40 kilometres into South Australia from the point at which they enter the state. This is not a 40-kilometre travel distance, but rather an arbitrary line on a map. There is also a requirement for these community members to show evidence of a COVID test in the past seven days.

Accessing medical treatment (including a COVID test) is an allowable reason to travel for cross-border community members. Domestic travellers can be permitted to travel into SA and immediately get tested upon entry to SA, but this is at the complete discretion of police.

If you are applying for an essential travel permit it is highly recommended that you include supporting evidence. Letters from a professional are highly regarded. Information on cross-border travel is available here, and the cross-border travel registration form is available here.
 
NSW
Border closures continue for Victorians, and only those who meet strict criteria are allowed to enter New South Wales. More information about who can travel into New South Wales is available here, and travel permit applications can be made here.

 

COVID-19 CASES

Active COVID-19 cases

Figures correct at 8.40pm, August 5, 2020

Total confirmed COVID-19 cases

Figures correct at 8.40pm, August 5, 2020

 

It’s important to remember that these numbers are more than just statistics. I wish everyone who has tested positive a full and speedy recovery, and thank those who are self-isolating to minimise the spread of this virus in our community. A big thank you also goes to our frontline health staff right across the region who are testing, treating and caring for our community.

 

COVID-19 POSTCODE DATA

We had a win over the weekend, with the government finally agreeing to my request to release case numbers by postcode. You can access this data here. Please note that the COVID LIVE website is not a government website – the data is collated from media reports and verified against federal and state health departments.

 

COVID-19 TESTING LOCATIONS

If you have symptoms, no matter how mild, please get tested at your nearest testing site, and stay at home until you get your results.

Wimmera Health Care Group COVID Clinic

At Wimmera Base Hospital, Horsham – entry via Arnott Street.

Drive-through testing from 9am to 5pm, no appointment necessary.

Horsham Respiratory Clinic

148 Baillie St (next to Lister House Medical Clinic)

Open from 10am to 5pm. For appointments, call 5382 0011 or make a booking here.

Western District Health Service drive-through testing service

At Hamilton Base Hospital, entry via Foster Street.

Open from 7.30am to 9.30am, and 12.30pm to 4.30pm Monday to Friday; 10am to 12 noon on Saturday.

No appointment necessary.

 

BUSINESS SUPPORT

The Victorian Government has expanded its Business Support Fund in light of increased restrictions, with businesses in regional Victoria eligible for a $5000 grant. Businesses that have already received a Business Support Fund grant, or who have applied for one, will not need to re-apply; successful applicants will automatically receive the additional allocation. Applications for the program will be extended until September 14, 2020. Updated guidelines and an application form is available here.

Information about other Victorian Government measures to help businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic is available here.

The Australian Government has extended its JobKeeper payment for a further six months, to March 2021. More information about JobKeeper and other federal government support measures is available here.

Rural Financial Counselling Service has a dedicated Wimmera South West team that can provide free assistance to small regional businesses in navigating the challenges of COVID-19. They are available by calling 1300 735 578, or by visiting https://www.wswrcs.com.au/

 

SUPPORT FOR THOSE SELF-ISOLATING

If you are isolating yourself for any reason and are lacking the support you need, please access local assistance by calling the one of the following services relevant to your local government area:

Southern Grampians Shire Council

Please call the WDHS Helping Hands Program on 1800 943 131 or email helpinghands@wdhs.net.

Glenelg Shire Council

Please call the 1800 Glenelg Together Program on 1800 512 461 and your call will be answered by Portland District Health, or email 1800GlenelgTogether@swarh.vic.gov.au

Moyne Shire Council

Please call Latrobe Community Health Services on 1800 242 696.

Horsham Rural City, Hindmarsh Shire, Yarriambiack Shire, West Wimmera Shire, Northern Grampians Shire and Ararat Rural City councils

These councils have united with other health and community agencies to provide dedicated local support. Please call the local Call for Help Hotline on 1800 195 114 and your call will be answered by the intake team at Uniting Wimmera.

Many local businesses, cafes and restaurants are also providing free, no-contact home delivery services. Unfortunately there are too many for me to list, but I thank all businesses who have adapted to offering this vital service.

 

WHERE TO ACCESS HELP
Below is a list of websites and services that can help you understand current restrictions and access relevant support if you need it. 

  • dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus contains information about restrictions and health advice, and also has links to relevant financial assistance and support
  • The Victorian Coronavirus Hotline – 1800 675 398
  • Head to Health provides links to trusted online and phone mental health supports and resources
  • Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
  • Lifeline: 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
  • Headspace – Horsham, for people aged between 12 and 25: 5381 1543

WE’RE HERE FOR YOU
My team and I are available via phone or email if you need help interpreting restrictions or finding relevant information, or if you require assistance with any other state government query. You can reach us by emailing emma.kealy@parliament.vic.gov.au or by calling 5382 0097.

 

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