SENTINEL-TIMES COMMENT

THERE seems to be a dark divide between the people who blame the state government for our present predicament and those who say now is not the time for recriminations.
With the prospect that regional Victoria will begin to open up appreciably as early as this Wednesday, when we move to Step Three, those who hold the latter view are probably right.
Our minds should turn to steadily rebuilding the economy as cafés and pubs return to offer a mix of indoor and outdoor hospitality, we are allowed to leave home for a road trip and recreation, and things start to return to normal.
Travel within Victoria will also be possible (except not to areas with a higher level of restriction) and you’ll be able to book accommodation and take the family away for a break over the school holidays before school goes back on Monday, October 5.
Over the weekend, Premier Daniel Andrews was able to announce some much more encouraging figures about the fall in positive cases and he also predicted the tourism sector could help lead the state out of recession by posting a big result over the summer months, in the absence of overseas, and possibly even interstate travel.
So, local tourist operators, hospitality businesses and those in charge of small, medium and major events should be setting their own roadmaps out of the mess with the prospect of a bumper response from visitors, especially when Melbourne’s restrictions are eased as well.
As much as we might be concerned by the free movement of people out of metro Melbourne, a lot of hard lessons have been learned about the pandemic and we can afford to look forward this time, with confidence, that the authorities will hit outbreaks quickly and hard.
It is noticeable that by far the largest numbers of positive cases are in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne and the state government should consider maintaining restrictions in those areas until these outbreaks are contained.
Closer to home, the City of Casey (Tooradin to Narre Warren) is also in the ‘top five’ for positive cases, so it is most important that borders to regional areas are enforced, and also that we continue to take our own health precautions.
So, as we begin to open up this week, it’s time for a bit of cautious optimism about the future in regional Victoria.