Health | June 23, 2020

Rethink needed for COVID-19 restrictions in rural communities

Member for Lowan Emma Kealy has urged the Andrews Labor Government to apply fairness and common sense to its COVID-19 restrictions to ensure rural and regional communities do not pay the price for people in metropolitan areas flouting the rules.
Ms Kealy said she was disappointed and frustrated that while the communities in Lowan remained COVID-free, Premier Daniel Andrews had forced all Victorians to return to a heightened level of restrictions with very little notice.
She said the announcement on Saturday that hospitality businesses, among others, would not be allowed to increase their patronage to 50 people as planned had caused significant hardship.
“I have received numerous enquiries from business owners, frustrated that people in rural areas who are doing the right thing are being penalised for outbreaks in Melbourne. This is killing local jobs and prosperity,” she said.
“There are local government areas in our region that have never recorded a positive case of COVID-19, yet are subject to the same restrictions as areas with several cases.
“We recognise that social distancing and density requirements will help ensure our communities continue to remain COVID-free, but we can ease restrictions and safely open our communities while still adhering to these requirements.
“Nobody wants to see a second wave that sets us back, however regional areas are proving that they are responsible and careful and should have restrictions eased. Our local communities are ready to keep taking safe steps back towards normality.”
Ms Kealy said last-minute changes to planned easing of restrictions had blindsided businesses, many of whom had rostered on extra staff and bought supplies in anticipation of patronage numbers increasing. 
“The government has been quick to consider lockdowns in high-risk suburbs in Melbourne, but this should go both ways,” she said. 
“The government needs to allow regional businesses in communities where there are no active cases to safely return to business as normal, so that our communities and economies can get back on track.”
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