REGIONAL Victoria has so far remained completely immune from the latest COVID-19 outbreaks which are affecting suburbs across Melbourne, but with school holidays starting on Saturday and Ballarat's major tourist attractions to reopen, now is not the time for complacency.
The expected influx of tourits will spark genuine fears of a second wave of virus infections in regional Victoria, which has seen no new COVID-19 cases in weeks.
Major Ballarat attractions including Sovereign Hill and Kryal Castle will each open their doors for the first time on Saturday, but new social distancing measures will be strictly enforced.
Sovereign Hill will reopen with a capacity of 1000 and has sold out for the reopening day. On Friday, only a handful of tickets were left for Sunday. The outdoor museum is opening Friday, Saturday and Sunday only in the short term.
However, due to recent outbreaks in Melbourne suburbs including Broadmeadows and Keilor Downs, which are seeing unprecedented door-to-door community testing being carried out, ticket holders from those areas have been offered different dates in coming weeks as a way of avoiding any potential community transmissions.
"Sixty percent of all available discount tickets between June 27 and July 12 have been sold," a Sovereign Hill spokesperson said.
"In light of the recent announcement from the Victorian Government of Covid-19 hotspot areas in Melbourne, Sovereign Hill has reached out to all ticket holders in those areas and offered to change their tickets to a later date."
Sovereign Hill has reduced its full adult ticket prices by half for the time being, with all tickets needing to be purchased online prior to arrival.
At Kryal Castle limited tickets for the reopening two days remain, with the medieval attraction able to cater for up to 900 people at a time.
Major drawcards including the 'skills at arms' and the 'joust' will go ahead as normal during the day, however some performances and attractions which can only be attended by going up narrow staircases and paths have been called off.
A Kryal Castle spokesperson said food outlets will operate for up to 20 people at a time while takeaway options will also be available.
The state government says there are no restrictions on how far or how long a person can travel within Victoria with visitors able to book accommodation or stay with family and friends. Shared and communal facilities including kitchens and bathrooms at camping sites are also open for use for up to 20 people at a time.
"As always, we're urging Victorians to use common sense in their activities. It's up to all of us to make this work," the spokesperson said..
Ambulance Victoria Grampians Regional Director Tim Maywald said there was a real fear that community transmission of the virus could occur if people did not adhere to social distancing measures.
"The recent spike in coronavirus cases has prompted fears of a second wave, but our message remains the same," Mr Maywald said.
"If you go out, please continue to practice physical distancing. Wash your hands thoroughly and often, and don't touch your face because the primary path of infection is through your mouth, nose and eyes.
"If you know someone who might not be aware of restrictions, check in on them and direct them to information on the DHHS website."
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