Regional reprieve

Longwarry locals Rhiannon and Shane Foster with their kids Marshall and Bethany with their neighbour Van. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS 215447_03

Towns east of Bunyip and south of Lang Lang will enter the third step of the recovery roadmap, following a community “determination” to keep coronavirus numbers low in the regions.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced regional communities will be able to move around more freely from 11.59 on Wednesday 16 September, after having reached a 14-day average of 3.6, with no mystery cases.

“Regional Victoria has reached the necessary ‘trigger point’ in our roadmap – meaning our public health experts have advised that we can take this next step,” Mr Andrews said.

From Thursday 17 September, regional communities will face no restrictions when leaving the house.

Outdoor public gatherings with groups of up to 10 will be allowed, while up to five people from one other household will be able to visit the home.

A staged return to onsite learning will see regional students back in the classroom for term four, while outdoor contact and non-contact sport will begin.

The numbers for weddings and funerals will increase, and religious gatherings can happen outdoors with up to ten people.

Hospitality businesses can serve patrons outdoors, with a cap of 50 seated patrons per venue, and an updated ‘two square metre’ density limit in place.

Indoor venues can open to a maximum of 10 seated customers per space – with up to two spaces per venue – and in line with the existing ‘four square metre’ density rule.

The Premier said the regional reprieve was good news for every Victorian.

“It shows – in very real terms – the strategy is working. The hard work of all Victorians is paying off,” he said.

Metropolitan Melbourne currently holds a 14-day average of 52.9, with the Premier confident we’ll be on track to reach the second step of reopening by 28 September.

Cardinia Shire Council mayor Jeff Springfield said he was “so proud” of the community’s patience, fortitude and spirit through the past six months.

“While the Victorian Government has released its ‘Roadmap to reopening’, as a council, we actively continue our advocacy efforts to the state government in the best interests of our community,” Cr Springfield said.

“The application of ‘Metropolitan rules’ to our diverse and unique shire remains a frustration to many in our community.

“We understand that the designation of metropolitan and regional areas is challenging, but we continue to strongly advocate to the government to acknowledge the unique nature of our shire.”