REGIONS TO OPEN, SHEPP’S ON WAY
WITH RESTRICTIONS TO EASE FOR THE REST OF REGIONAL VIC, SHEPPARTON COULD BE INCLUDED NEXT WEEK
Shepparton is on track to join the rest of regional Victoria and emerge from the current Stage 4 coronavirus restrictions next week.
From 11.59 pm today, all of regional Victoria except for Greater Shepparton will enjoy greater freedom, with businesses including hospitality venues able to open.
The five reasons to leave home will be removed.
“There are far less cases in regional Victoria than there are in Melbourne, outbreaks have been brought under control, which is a testament to our great contact tracers, our public health teams and also the great work of regional Victorians over these recent weeks,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.
The move came despite five new cases in regional areas. Two, including a case in Mitchell Shire, were linked to construction work in Melbourne and the other three cases were all non-residents who had acquired COVID-19 in Melbourne.
“It is not freedom day, it is not 100 per cent capacity down at the pub; if it was, we would see numbers spread and would have to close large parts of regional Victoria again, perhaps all of regional Victoria,” Mr Andrews said.
Shepparton had a doughnut day for new cases on Wednesday and Mr Andrews said the city’s freedom, likely next week, would be hard won.
“We would hope to have Shepparton catch up to the rest of regional Victoria sometime next week, and we will make those announcements once we have tidied up the last bits of the outbreak there,” he said.
“The Goulburn Valley community has done an amazing job, and I thank everybody who has volunteered, everybody who has isolated at home, everybody who has been through that 14-day journey.
“Hopefully we can have Greater Shepparton on the same footing as regional Victoria next week.”
Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said the new freedoms for regional Victoria were “fragile” and Shepparton was an example of how quickly an outbreak could take hold.
Mr Sutton said it took several weeks and tens of thousands of people quarantining and testing to get the Shepparton outbreak under control.
“Shepparton does illustrate just how quickly it can take hold,” he said.
“It is looking good, but it takes an enormous effort and no town in regional Victoria wants to go through that.”
Mr Andrews also announced a significant shift in public policy for regional Victoria, using a quarantine-and-contain approach which has long been called for by communities and business leaders across the state.
“If we do have cases bobbing up in regional Victorian not only is it our preference, it will be our practice to have targeted measures,” he said.