Business and council leaders have joined forces to hammer home a blunt message to people across Ballarat: stay put for the sake of our city.
They have also called for Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Daniel Andrews to take "bold" steps to restrict people's movement.
In a message agreed jointly by the City of Ballarat, Commerce Ballarat, Ballarat Regional Tourism and the Committee for Ballarat, residents were urged not to leave their homes unless they absolutely had to.
They were also asked not to visit Melbourne as that is where the vast majority of positive COVID-19 cases have been located in the state.
If you don't need to travel outside of this region, please don't travel... People's lives are at riskMayor Cr Ben Taylor
A press release from the City of Ballarat, but including the logos of all four organisations, reads:
"As city leaders, we're urging the Ballarat community to stay home and do their bit to flatten the curve across our region.
" We are concerned that the cases in Australia have now risen to more than 2,000. We may only have five positive cases of COVID-19 in Ballarat, but we know that this figure will only increase.
"We are now calling on our community to stay home, be kind and do their bit to flatten the curve.
" We are asking you to not only stay home but to stay within our town limits. Melbourne is where the majority of the COVID-19 cases are currently being recorded.
" They have recorded more than 400 cases to date - we have recorded five. We urge you not to travel there at the moment.
"Stay within the Ballarat limits and we can be like Vo - the Italian town that beat coronavirus by isolating itself from the rest of its nation. In the epicentre of the Italian COVID-19 epidemic, they recorded just one death."
They also called on the Premier and Prime Minster to "be bold" and consider closing cities and limiting people's movement, saying there could be 77,000 people infected in the Grampians area "within weeks".
The mayor Cr Ben Taylor appeared in a video, reinforcing the message to residents, and reiterating the request to the Premier Daniel Andrews and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
WATCH MAYOR BEN TAYLOR'S VIDEO MESSAGE
"They need to be brave with what's happening," he said. "We need to be flattening that curve.
"We need to focus on what we can do as a community. If you don't need to travel outside of this region, please don't travel.
"People's lives are at risk."
The plea adds weight to calls from Ballarat Health Services yesterday, asking the community to respect new guidelines on social distancing and help stop the spread of the virus.
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