Member for Morwell Russell Northe will today in Parliament call upon the Premier to urgently review the thresholds that apply to the “Last Step” within the reopening roadmap for Regional Victoria.
Regional Victoria is currently operating within the “Third Step” of the Governments roadmap but before moving to the “Last Step” there has to be no new COVID cases across all of Victoria.
Mr Northe said “My office has been inundated with calls and contact from angry and frustrated persons right across the community who are concerned that it could be weeks and weeks if not months before that threshold is met”.
“For Regional Victoria to have to wait until there are no new cases across all of Victoria for 14 days before any further steps can be taken, is virtually unfathomable and the arbitrary nature of the threshold requires urgent reviewing” Mr Northe said.
“Gippsland like so many other parts of Regional Victoria has not had a new COVID case for the past 14 days yet it seems like we have to wait for Melbourne to catch up which is ridiculous” Mr Northe continued.
“Rhetorically speaking, and under the Governments current rules, what would happen if Victoria got to 13 days without a new case and then on the 14th day one new case was discovered – would we have to all start again?” Mr Northe lamented.
“Communities have worked damn hard to do the right thing, yet we are being stifled by a threshold, that really doesn’t make any logical sense” Mr Northe said.
“The business community have proven that they can and will comply with all COVID-Safe measures, but it’s fair to say that many are at breaking point given they are only able to operate at limited capacity or not even open their doors at all” said Mr Northe.
“Whether it’s entertainment, food and hospitality, indoor sport and recreation, travel, weddings, funerals or religious services and more, the livelihoods, health and mental health and well-being of so many has been tested” Mr Northe said.
It’s ironic that the “Last Step” under the roadmap is not actually the last step with “COVID Normal” and “Normal” still to come.
“It seems illogical to me that school classes have resumed and that 25 kids or more can be in a classroom at the same time for the majority of the day, yet a handful of those same children can’t participate in a karate, gymnastics, ballet, gym or dance class – or even take a swimming lesson for one hour of the day. And to rub salt into the wound, photographers are not even able to take school photos under the current rules” Mr Northe said.
“With no end in sight to these arbitrary conditions, I’ve called upon the Premier to urgently review the “Last Step” criteria this decision and give Regional Victorians some hope within his Government’s reopening roadmap policy”, Mr Northe continued.
“The profound effects of this crisis on people’s freedoms, their jobs and income, their mental, physical health and wellbeing, is extraordinary and a better balance has to be found and that means the Premier having the courage to amend the stringent threshold under his “Last Step” roadmap to allow Regional communities to reopen further and safely” Mr Northe concluded.