Give us a chance to thrive
REGIONAL COMMUNITIES HAVE SHOWN THEY CAN RESPOND WHEN NEEDED, BUT IN RETURN, WHY CAN’T WE HAVE THE FREEDOM TO GET ON WITH LIFE, AND BUSINESS WITH WORKABLE RESTRICTIONS?
The stresses and strains of the pandemic are showing.
It seems many Victorians, especially in regional areas, are at the end of their tether when it comes to restrictive measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.
As the City of Greater Shepparton amply demonstrated, when there is a crisis, and a very real threat to life and health, the community is willing and able to respond.
It could be said that the 20,000 people placed in mandatory quarantine didn’t really have a choice — but they did, and they chose to comply for the greater good of everybody.
The other two-thirds of the population lucky enough to avoid being cooped up at home with no reason to go out other than to be tested had more choices, and they too overwhelmingly decided to do what was in the best interests of the community.
They stayed home, limited their contact with others and helped to bring the outbreak under control.
The debate we are currently having is not about the need for decisive action in the face of a serious outbreak, it is about the freedoms we should have when there is no imminent threat.
Greater Shepparton is still in stage 4 lockdown with only the five reasons to leave home.
Victorian Deputy Premier James Merlino acknowledged yesterday that the signs look good, but he had no news on when we will join the rest of regional Victoria.
On the latest data City of Greater Shepparton has passed the 70 per cent single dose vaccination threshold which the Victorian Government set as a benchmark for additional freedoms even under stage 4, such as being able to travel 10 km instead of five and exercise for three hours instead of two.
If greater Shepparton has to wait longer to join the rest of regional Victoria out of lockdown then the granting of these extra freedoms now would be a benefit to a community that has been through a very difficult time with COVID-19.
Hopefully, we are still on track for a positive announcement later this week, but it still won’t be enough to cheer up many hospitality businesses which will be left behind again when we open up.
The hard cap on patron numbers is unworkable and a growing chorus of people agree that the one-person-per-4 sqm rule should be applied instead.
For the families involved, as owners and workers, and for the benefits they provide to our community, we need our hospitality businesses to survive the pandemic.
Regional communities have shown they can respond when needed, but in return, why can’t we have the freedom to get on with life, and business, with workable restrictions?