People of the Gippsland South electorate are frustrated at the ongoing harsh COVID restrictions despite zero active cases in the region, according to MP Danny O’Brien.

The Member for Gippsland South held a series of informal listening posts across the electorate last week receiving a huge volume of feedback from people on the street.

Mr O’Brien conducted listening posts in Sale, Rosedale, Loch Sport, Mirboo North, Leongatha, Korumburra, Foster and Yarram as well as visits to Yanakie, Fish Creek, Toora and Welshpool.

“It’s been great getting out and about again as travel restrictions are loosened and many hundreds of people have come up to me for a chat,” he said.

“The overwhelming question and message I’m getting is frustration from people about the ongoing restrictions for regional Victoria despite our low or non-existent COVID case numbers.

“While some people are cautious and happy for the rules to remain conservative, most people are questioning me on why the state government is tying regional Victoria to Melbourne, and about the contradictory nature of many of the restrictions.

Mr O’Brien said locals were concerned that local businesses were still hampered, particularly pubs, cafes and restaurants which have had a devastating year after bushfires and COVID-19, and were heavily restricted with only 10 people per area able to be served indoors at any time.

“The highly variable spring weather has highlighted that alfresco dining outdoors is rarely suitable for most of our Gippsland businesses. “There’s also concern about dance schools, gyms, gymnastics and many other businesses and community facilities that remain closed.

“For example, I’ve had a number of groups asking about whether they can hold meetings such as CWA branches and family history groups. And while the answer in their own facility is ‘no’, they are able to book a table at a local pub or restaurant. These contradictions don’t make much sense.”

Mr O’Brien said the second most raised issue was the compulsory wearing of masks.

“People are very frustrated and many of them struggle wearing masks and are worried about the warmer weather coming up.

“I believe masks are the cheapest and easiest thing we can do, but they should be restricted to indoors and high-risk situations like supermarkets and crowded areas. It makes little sense to enforce the wearing of masks when people are out and about on their own working or walking.”

 “I’ll be … continuing to press for more sensible yet safe restrictions for Gippsland as we come out of the COVID second wave.”