Mel­bur­ni­ans spark anger on the coast

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - NATALEE KERR, OLIVIA SHY­ING

HUN­DREDS of Mel­bur­ni­ans who rushed to hol­i­day homes along the Surf Coast and Bel­lar­ine Penin­sula to spend the next six weeks of lock­down are be­ing urged to re­turn home.

Co­rangamite MP Libby Coker is plead­ing with vis­i­tors to im­me­di­ately leave their hol­i­day homes and for the State Gov­ern­ment to clar­ify stay at home or­ders as a se­cond wave of COVID-19 wors­ens.

“On Wed­nes­day we saw an in­flux of peo­ple flee­ing to their beach houses to avoid the in­com­ing stage 3 re­stric­tions at 11.59pm,” Ms Coker said.

“This is un­ac­cept­able, es­pe­cially when the Premier was very clear on Tues­day that peo­ple should not be leav­ing their pri­mary place of res­i­dence.

“We have al­ready had cases trans­mit­ted by vis­i­tors from Mel­bourne as I un­der­stand it.”

Premier Daniel An­drews an­nounced on Tues­day that there would be a lock down of all metropoli­tan Mel­bourne from Wed­nes­day night for six weeks.

“This stay home di­rec­tion will ap­ply to your prin­ci­pal place of res­i­dence — that means no es­cap­ing to hol­i­day homes,” Mr An­drews said.

City of Greater Geelong Cr An­thony Aitken said it was “ex­tremely dis­ap­point­ing” to hear re­ports of Mel­bur­ni­ans flock­ing to coastal houses hours ahead of the lock­down.

“They are putting our com­mu­nity at risk,” Cr Aitken said.

“We don’t have the same re­sources in terms of ICU beds and med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties as they in Mel­bourne.”

He said the be­hav­iour was “self­ish” and had cre­ated fears of a surge in COVID-19 com­mu­nity trans­mis­sion among lo­cals.

Busi­nesses have an “obli­ga­tion” to check IDs and refuse ser­vice to cus­tomers from Mel­bourne’s lock­down ar­eas, the State Gov­ern­ment said.

Uforic Food Cafe Torquay owner Lisa Cum­mins said the re­quire­ment forced lo­cal traders “to play bounc­ers”.

Mrs Cum­mins said she was com­pletely un­aware of the pro­to­col un­til Fri­day af­ter a cus­tomer in­formed her.

“Noth­ing had been com­mu­ni­cated to us at all, and it’s not a mi­nor a de­tail ei­ther,” she said.

“It’s a big re­spon­si­bil­ity for small busi­nesses who al­ready have a mil­lion other things to con­sider.”

Mrs Cum­mins said she had many reg­u­lar cus­tomers from Mel­bourne “al­most ev­ery week­end”.

“It’s a pretty hard to say to some­one who has been cus­tomer for five years that I can’t serve you,” she said.

“I’ve been in this in­dus­try for nearly seven years and have never had to bla­tantly refuse ser­vice be­fore.

“It leaves a cold feel­ing in your heart — we’re not de­signed to be bounc­ers, we’re there to wel­come peo­ple.”

In a Face­book post on Fri­day, the Surf Coast Shire Coun­cil said there were rea­sons for vis­i­tors to “le­git­i­mately” be in the re­gion.

The coun­cil said this in­cluded those who nom­i­nated their hol­i­day home as their prin­ci­pal place of res­i­dence be­fore the stay at home pe­riod.

“Now the pe­riod has be­gun, peo­ple are not al­lowed to change their prin­ci­pal place of res­i­dence for the six-week re­stric­tion pe­riod, and can­not move be­tween prop­er­ties,” the coun­cil said.

Se­na­tor Sarah Hen­der­son said on Fri­day the re­gion was in “a race against time to stop the im­po­si­tion of lock­down re­stric­tions”.

Se­na­tor Hen­der­son urged lo­cals to stay vig­i­lant with so­cial dis­tanc­ing and said the spike in ac­tive cases across the re­gion meant “we can­not take any­thing for granted”.

Pic­ture: PETER RISTEVSKI

NOT FOR YOU: Uforic Food Cafe owner Lisa Cum­mins has posted signs stat­ing the cafe will refuse ser­vice to peo­ple from metropoli­tan Mel­bourne.

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