The Weekly Advertiser Horsham
The wait continues
Wimmera-mallee communities are among regional Victorians still awaiting word on any easing or modification of lockdown restrictions beyond suburban Melbourne.
Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed yesterday that a decision involving most of regional Victoria, based on COVID-19 outbreak epidemiology, was likely sometime this week.
But Mr Andrews also reaffirmed that an easing of lockdown restrictions in the regions would fall short of a ‘snapback’ to usual circumstances or open the door for any sort of ‘freedom day’.
He said any decisions about regional Victorian restrictions would come out of further meetings.
“It will be later on this week, I’m not quite certain. I want to confirm though that no decision’s been made. Our form has been that when we’ve made a decision we’ll announce it very soon thereafter,” he said.
“We’re working towards being able to lift the lockdown, but there will still be restrictions in country Victoria and we’ll make those announcements as soon as we can.
“Once you lift a lockdown there’s a whole lot of businesses that can reopen, but there will be limitations. The last thing you want is virus spreading and then having to go back into lockdown.”
While uncertainty remains about what this means for community sport, the delay means organisations are unlikely to have any option but to cancel another weekend of finals activities.
Mr Andrews said when regional Victoria opened further it would provide an ideal opportunity for state ‘vaccinated economy trials’ that might involve technical experiments involving outdoor dining.
“If and when we get regional Victoria open again that’s the perfect place for that trial work,” he said.
Mr Andrews generally spoke of a need for more people to take up opportunities to get doses of readily available Astrazeneca vaccines and pushing towards efforts to reach an 80 percent vaccination level across the state.
He was particularly critical of Commonwealth distribution of extra Pfizer vaccines for Sydney outside a national vaccination plan and spoke of a rollout of priority vaccines for Victorian Certificate of Education students.
He also reiterated a position that in the future Victoria would explore ‘lock out instead of lock down’ rules based on vaccination.
Wimmera Health Care Group has earmarked this Saturday and September 16 as special days for VCE students and teachers from Horsham and other Wimmera towns to receive vaccinations at its 20 Mclachlan Street state-run centre.
Victorian Grampians sub-hub vaccine rollout co-ordinator Genevieve Lilley said she was working with schools and other health services to vaccinate eligible students.
She said VCE years 12 and 11 students and teachers could book in for vaccination through dedicated VCE booking phone number 1800 434 144.
“We don’t expect all students in western Victoria to come to the Horsham clinic,” she said.
“There will be special clinics in Nhill next week, of which students will have priority. Students in the more remote towns might find it easier to go to their local GP to get a vaccine. The main thing is they can get one somewhere, and we encourage them to go to whichever service is most convenient to them.”
Wimmera Vaccination Clinic, run by Horsham’s Lister House Medical Clinic at Up Tempo Cafe and Function Centre, will also provide priority services to VCE students when an expected extra 1000 doses of Pfizer vaccine arrives within the next fortnight.
The clinic has already earmarked pregnant women, interstate truck drivers and frontline health and emergency workers as priority groups.
Lister House chief executive Amanda Wilson said the clinic regularly updated latest details on its Facebook page.
“We’re trying to work different hours for different groups and individuals based on eligibility,” she said.
“The best thing for someone who is unsure of what we can provide is to call us on 0458 969 778.”