RURAL Councils Victoria is calling for the declaration of a long weekend that celebrates when Victoria reaches herd immunity to COVID-19 through high levels of vaccination.

The long weekend would also be used to stimulate rural and regional economies hit hard by lockdowns and the lack of Melbourne-based tourists.

Rural Councils Victoria chair Cr Mary-Ann Brown said: “The pandemic has been tough on everyone and it is more than appropriate to celebrate when we have reached herd immunity through high levels of vaccination.

“It seems that vaccination levels will be sufficient in spring and Rural Councils Victoria is proposing a long weekend to celebrate. One idea would be to extend the AFL Grand Final weekend by a day.

“While up to 90,000 can watch the match at the MCG, everyone else is invited to rural and regional Victoria for a COVID-free and COVIDSafe party.”

RCV deputy chair Jenny O’Connor said: “Getting out of the city gives Melburnians something to look forward to, provides a reward for doing the right thing and gives rural and regional areas the economic boost they need after very tough economic times.

“With advance notice, it might even give the state government the opportunity to design incentives for tourists to visit rural and regional Victoria.”