Calls for localised approach to Mitchell Shire lockdown

By David Rak

State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan is pushing for a localised approach to restrictions in Mitchell Shire after a stage three lockdown was re-instated.

Mitchell Shire and metropolitan Melbourne returned to stage three restrictions for six weeks last Wednesday.

There are now only four reasons to leave the house: shopping for food and supplies, care and caregiving, exercise, and work or study — if it can’t be done from home.

In a letter to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, Ms Ryan asked for a postcode-by-postcode breakdown of active COVID-19 cases in Mitchell Shire after being ‘‘inundated’’ by emails and phone calls from residents who felt the restrictions applied across the entire shire were too broad.

‘‘Mitchell Shire covers almost 3000 square kilometres. With 12 cases currently recorded across the shire, there is a strong desire from residents to understand which localities are impacted,’’ she said.

Ms Ryan said providing case numbers by postcode would ensure residents were informed about the level of risk in their own community, while being generalised enough to protect the privacy of those who were ill.

‘‘While the southern end of the shire maintains close linkages with Melbourne, much of the northern end has different communities of interest,’’ she wrote to the premier.

‘‘I strongly urge you to consider whether it is possible to take a more localised approach to restrictions in the shire, as has occurred in suburbs in Melbourne.’’

State Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said the lockdown decision was necessary to protect the Mitchell Shire community.

‘‘Regional Victoria is not immune to this virus. It can spread anywhere. Our focus needs to be on the areas where there is a high risk of transmission,’’ she said.

‘‘We have a number of cases in central parts of the shire as well as some closer to Melbourne and there is a risk these could spread elsewhere in our community very easily.

‘‘The more data we have and the way our community responds will dictate every step we take from here on out.’’

Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum said he had been outspoken about the need for the state government to treat regional Victoria as a separate entity to Melbourne.

‘‘I am urging a more commonsense approach to current restrictions,’’ he said. ‘‘Hopefully we can find out the details around these infections sooner rather than later so the community can help make sure the virus is contained.

‘‘My thoughts are with those in the Mitchell Shire who will be subject to at least six weeks of stage three restrictions.

‘‘I know it will be incredibly difficult to go into full lockdown again and another unwanted outcome for local business owners, but I urge everyone to follow the rules so some normality can return as soon as possible.’’