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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Premier to consider lifting regional restrictions

Premier Daniel Andrews will consider changes to COVID-19 restrictions for regional Victorians after no new cases were recorded in regional areas overnight.

“As it stands now – and I can’t guarantee that this is the case – but if the trend continues, and the numbers are very promising, we’ll be able to take a step, or steps, as early as toward the end of next week,” Mr Andrews said.

“I have regular correspondence from at least one of those communities multiple times per day. I don’t always pick up the phone, because I’m sometimes doing other things. 

“But I have a unique understanding of how frustrating it is for those who don’t have much, or any, virus, and the fact that rules apply to them. If we were asking those communities to wait a long period of time, then we would have divvied up the state into lots of different zones. 

“And that then avoids having to divide the state up into regions, have police enforce all of those boundaries, because if you’ve got certain venues open here, a community not too far away that’s closed, people will go where the hotels are open, where the restaurants are open, where a group of settings that are closer to normal apply.”

There are just 72 active cases in areas of regional Victoria currently under Stage 3 restrictions.

“That’s again pleasing to see those numbers from a very high base; they’ve stabilised, they’ve steadily fallen, and now we’re pleased to be able to report that there were no new cases in regional Victoria overnight.”

“Colac has 29 active cases, greater Geelong has 11 active cases, greater Bendigo just two active cases and Ballarat no active cases, so communities that were of some concern to us a few weeks ago, those communities have done a mighty job in following the rules, getting tested – indeed all regional Victorians have, from the smallest of country towns to some of these bigger regional cities, these numbers are low and that is in large part due to the amazing efforts that regional Victorians have made.”

“We need to make sure that we continue that trend going forward, but we’re confident that those numbers are low and getting lower and that means there will be an opportunity for us quite soon to take a step or steps towards that COVID-normal for regional Victoria,” the Premier said.

Regional Victorians have been living under Stage 3 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions since 5 August. Under the Stage 3 rules, there are only four reasons that you can leave home: to shop for food and necessary goods or services; to provide care, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment; to exercise or for outdoor recreation; for work or education, if you can’t do it from home. Residents must also wear a face mask or covering when they leave home.

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