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Mayor calls for relief for regions

8 September 2021

Southern Grampians Shire Council is calling on the Victorian Government to rethink its approach to regional lockdowns in areas which are currently COVID-free.

In a letter to Premier Daniel Andrews, Southern Grampians Shire Council Mayor Bruach Colliton this week said, “Whilst our Southern Grampians community is happy to play its role in a response to the pandemic, this latest lockdown across regional Victoria has been difficult to accept, when the public health risk is weighed against the damage to business and the wellbeing of our community from the lockdown”.

“A lot has changed, over the last 18 months which I believe warrants a rethink of the “one size fits all” approach to lockdowns in regional areas, ”Cr Colliton said.

He called for the restrictions to be eased for the majority of regional Victoria, locking down just the communities with infections.

“The last reported case of COVID19 in Southern Grampians was in early 2020. In this most recent spread of the virus in Victoria, the nearest reported case to Southern Grampians is 300kms away in Melbourne. With Melbourne in lockdown, there is little opportunity for the virus to spread to Southern Grampians,” Cr Colliton said.

“The high vaccination rate in Southern Grampians, together with the responsibility shown by the Shepparton community in respecting public health directions, demonstrates the community mindedness of rural communities and their capacity to respond during outbreaks and contain them relatively quickly.

“I believe now is the right time to have a more nuanced approach to lockdowns, locking down just the communities with infections. With the improvements to our tracing processes, the community’s understanding of hygiene factors that minimise the chance of infection, our distance from the nearest infections, and with consideration of vaccination rates, it has been difficult for the Southern Grampians community to accept why it has been locked down. We feel a more appropriate approach would have been locking down Shepparton/Echuca area, and Melbourne Metro area, to contain the virus to those locations,” Cr Colliton said.

Cr Colliton thanked the community for rolling up their sleeves to be vaccinated, with recent figures showing over 40 percent of the Southern Grampians population had received both doses of vaccine.

“I was on the fence myself about vaccination for a time, but it’s not about me or you as individuals. It’s about the greater good. Vaccination is 100 percent our way out of this pandemic so let’s keep rolling those sleeves up for the benefit of our entire community,” Cr Colliton concluded.

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