SENTINEL-TIMES COMMENT

HOW lucky are we in regional Victoria to be out of lockdown?

Business operators can get about delivering services, their employees can get back to work, some community sport can get going again, the kids can get back to school and life can return to COVID-normal once more.

But I think we all know we are living on borrowed time until conditions, possibly in Melbourne or interstate, or in other parts of regional Victoria force another regional shutdown again.

There are three things that we need to do in the meantime to protect ourselves and to try to extend this relative freedom for as long as we can.

Firstly, we have to redouble our efforts as far as personal COVID-safe practices are concerned; wear masks at all times (even when going up to the bar to get a drink), keep your distance from others, regularly wash your hands or use sanitiser, and observe all home visiting restrictions – mindful that this is where most of the transmission takes place.

Secondly, take the opportunity to get vaccinated, in the knowledge that few if any “double vaccinated” people are being hospitalised. This is a protection for you and your family, but also helps protect our hospital system locally from being overrun if there is an outbreak.

Thirdly, authorities have to make sure that the rules around limiting the number of Melbourne people coming into regional areas are enforced. This is a serious issue.
Unfortunately, however, there are so many grey areas around Melbourne people being here as to make it almost impossible for business operators to effectively challenge those coming out of lockdown locations.

Whether it’s those rorting the “intimate partner” and “emergency maintenance” rules or flouting the “care and compassionate reasons” excuse or beating the lockdown date to relocate to a “second residence”; they are here at least semi-legitimately.

The government, together with the police, need to tighten these rules if they are to protect regional Victoria from this highly infectious strain of the virus.