• Rikki Lambert

Regional Victorians to be freed from lockdown Monday night

Crowds enjoy a powerful moment after the Stawell Gift 120m final at the 139th Running of the Gift in April

The Andrews government has relented on its lockdown on regional Victorians after criticism from the Opposition and federal member for Mallee, Dr Anne Webster MP.

In advice circulated on Monday morning, the government announced that from 11:59pm Monday night the lockdown would be lifted on regional Victorians.

In a statement sighted by FlowNews24, the government says:

"There have been no new coronavirus cases in regional Victoria and thousands of primary close contacts have been cleared from the regions over the last few weeks.
"The Chief Health Officer has advised that from 11:59pm tonight the five reasons to leave the home can be removed in regional Victoria and there will be no limit on the distance regional Victorians can travel from home."

Regional Victorians will still be restricted in travelling to metropolitan Melbourne.

On Sunday, Nationals MP for the federal seat of Mallee in the state's northwest wrote to Premier Andrews saying:

"I write to urge you to implement a Ring of Steel around Melbourne in this and any further outbreaks in order for regional Victoria–where there is currently no evidence of COVID–to return to business and community life.
"Please do not lockdown regional Victoria where there is no evidence of COVID. It is time for a targeted and proportionate response."

Victorian Liberal Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said on the weekend:

"The government needs to explain where is the public health advice that Mallacoota should be locked down or Warrnambool should be locked down.
"Where there's no COVID detected, where there's no hot spots, where there's no transmission sites, where there's no exposure sites people in those parts of regional Victoria are asking quite rightly, why are we under the same restrictions as hotspots?"

The Victorian government has advised that community sport will be open for all ages, including training and competition. Only the minimum number of participants (players, coaches, referees, officials, and carers or parents) needed to train or compete are allowed to attend, with a 1 per 4 square metre density requirement.

Spectators are not permitted, whereas in regional South Australia - in some cases the same leagues as Victorian-based teams participate - up to 1,000 spectators were allowed on the weekend under COVID-19 compliant protocols, such as wearing face masks and consuming food and drink seated.