ANY MISSTEPS could potentially devastate the region, tourism leaders say as they plead for respect from residents and visitors these school holidays.
Accommodation is near-booked out across Hepburn Shire through July with some towns filled with bookings to Christmas as people look for an escape during the pandemic.
Tourism leaders for Daylesford and Ballarat say there were undoubtedly nerves for expecting an influx of much-needed visitors on the school holidays as Victoria reports its ninth consecutive day of double-digit rise in new COVID-19 cases, driven by hotspots in suburban Melbourne.
Daylesford Macedon Ranges Tourism chief Steve Wroe said it was an incredible balancing act for business across the region and community health concerns.
"We don't know what is going to happen in the future...Tourism is back on unheard of levels for enquiries an bookings," Mr Wroe said.
"As a regional tourism board, we have been working closely with tourism operators - accommodation, food providers, retailers - making sure everyone is really across guidelines...It's a tricky one. We just have to follow state government directions.
"The good thing about our region is all operators and everyone else are interesting in doing the right thing. We understand the bigger picture in small communities and it helps that people tend to think about their neighbours."
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews detailed a suburb-by-suburb breakdown of COVID-19 hotspots in Melbourne on Thursday: Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Hallam, Brunswick West, Fawkner, Reservoir, Pakenham. There has also been a family outbreak of five cases in Brimbank, close to Melton.
Ballarat's coronavirus case tally remains 11 and the city has not identified any new cases since mid-May. Hepburn has had two cases, Moorabool three and Golden Plains one while there have been nine in Macedon Ranges - but there are no active cases in these shires.
Hepburn mayor Licia Kokocinski implored any visitors to her shire, including day trippers, to show respect in adhering to social distancing and hygiene. Cr Kokocinski also called on residents to be respectful of visitors and, if seeing unsafe behaviour, to call on police who will be out in force through the region in the holidays.
Moorabool and Ballarat police have made clear they would focus on travel destinations, like Daylesford, where potential breaches and large numbers of people would occur.
"I implore visitors, out community is very anxious. We do not want an outbreak because it would devastate us economically, socially and healthwise. We don't have the same infrastructure to deal with this as bigger cities," Cr Kokocinski said.
"...Visitors might want a day out or holiday but a lot of people cannot afford this or the consequences."
In Ballarat, tickets are sold out for Sovereign Hill's re-opening on Saturday with a reduced capacity for 1000 people. A Sovereign Hill spokesperson confirmed the open-air museum had contacted any ticket holders in Melbourne's COVID-19 hotspots for coming weekends had been offered to change their tickets to a later date.
Sovereign Hill has sold 60 per cent of tickets available to July 12, the last days of school holidays. Tickets were discounted up to 50 per cent in a bid to help encourage hometown visitors.
Other key tourist destination Ballarat Tramway Museum has postponed its planned school holiday re-launch. The museum will remain closed and its lakeside tram rides on hold, until a further review on lockdown restrictions.
Ballarat Regional Tourism chairman Iain Gunn said it was frustrating for business and tourism operators, many who were now finding it hard to see an end to lockdowns. Mr Gunn said even though regional Victoria had not experienced the virus cases of metropolitan regions, a breakout could still happen.
He agreed this was a balancing act and everyone had to keep playing their part.
"We've got to get this medical crisis under control," Mr Gunn said. "Even though regional Victoria remains relatively untouched, we rely on people coming from Melbourne to visit. The sooner this is under control, the better for all."
Ballarat Health Services acute operations director Ben Kelly reiterated people must remain vigilant on hygiene and social distancing. Mr Kelly said while a lot of people had looked forward to getting out in the school holidays, travel should only be be when necessary.
"Everyone has been doing a superb job but we need to remember social distancing - that's our great defence," Mr Kelly said. "It's why we're seeing great results here and we're seeing where it hasn't allegedly been so great how infection can spread."
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