MALLEE residents have done a fantastic job of flattening the curve and slowing the spread of COVID-19. We have seen no new cases of COVID-19 in Sunraysia or in other parts of Mallee in more than six weeks.
What we have seen is three reported cases that have been incorrectly attributed to Mildura. These misreported cases have increased anxiety in the community and have led some to question the validity of the data.
They’ve also had an effect on South Australia’s willingness to ease border restrictions for medical purposes. This incorrect reporting cannot continue.
In the past two weeks there has been a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in certain hot spots in Melbourne suburbs. This has led Premier Daniel Andrews to delay the relaxation of restrictions across the entirety of Victoria.
It’s not right that those of us who are living and working in coronavirus-free communities in the regions face the same restrictions as people living in hot spots in Melbourne. While I understand Mr Andrews’ concerns, we have outstanding contact tracing and testing regimes in place in Mallee, and our health care system is keeping up.
There are restaurants, pubs, gyms, and cafes that have increased inventory and employed or re-employed staff, ready to increase business based on the easing of restrictions that was due last Monday. These businesses have been hurt by the backflip we saw last week.
Mallee has been one of the hardest-hit electorates nationally regarding job losses due to COVID-19. Sunraysia Daily reported yesterday that one in 14 people in Sunraysia received the JobSeeker payment in May.
We are ready for a local relaxation of restrictions. Our economy and our people need to get back to work, but we can’t do this with urban-centric restrictions being imposed statewide.
Mr Andrews and the Victorian Government need to seriously look at localised lockdowns in the city to control outbreaks there, and prevent travel to the regions.
They also need to pursue a plan that allows for the easing of restrictions in the regions so that we begin down the long path to recovery