WONTHAGGI’S ArtSpace will remain closed until at least Tuesday, January 12.

Bass Coast Artists’ Society (BCAS) ArtSpace president Geoff Ellis broke the news to members this week in the wake of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Leongatha and several local exposure sites. ArtSpace incorporates the community gallery, information centre and rest stop for travellers.

“A year ago, we were waking up to the smell of bushfires and nervously looking toward the horizon. As that threat receded the pandemic became imperative. The inevitable lockdown showed that responses to COVID19 need to be swift and decisive,” Mr Ellis said.

“Last year the decision to close was made early and the decision to re-open as the pandemic came under control was made after much consideration of these factors: ArtSpace has to provide a safe working space for volunteers. It has to meet stringent standards of service and safety for our visitors and the local community.

“We closed the doors on December 31 as a wave of travellers passed through Wonthaggi and a number of COVID-19 contacts across Victoria became apparent.”

BCAS reviewed the situation with a view to reopening on Wednesday, January 6.

“Although the spread of contacts seems to be under control, right now there are known cases from Lakes Entrance to Chadstone, including Leongatha. Throughout this pandemic, ArtSpace people have been extremely cautious and conservative in our decision making,” Mr Ellis said.

“After lengthy discussions yesterday [Monday, January 4] I have made the decision to keep the ArtSpace doors closed until at least Tuesday 12th January. We will review the situation again on Monday 11th to make an informed decision.”

The roster coordinator has contacted all volunteers rostered on for the interim days to advise them of this decision.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank my fellow committee members for their input into these decisions.

I am proud that we put the safety of the community, the health of our volunteers and the potential test/case load on Bass Coast Health ahead of all else,” Mr Ellis said.

“I also want to commend the Volunteers who worked so hard and so professionally during the time we were open. I thank all our volunteers for their understanding and flexibility during these uncertain times.”