THE shocking scenes of visitors ignoring social distancing guidelines at Daylesford Railway Station's Sunday market at the weekend have prompted organisers to change the rules to limit the amount of people who can visit at any one time.
Hepburn Shire mayor Licia Kokocinski admitted to being "aghast" at the scenes at the weekend when sunny conditions saw tourists and locals flock to the market in huge numbers, most ignoring social distancing protocols
The new rules which will come into place at the next market include, limiting stalls to just food and produce, which includes around 30 stalls, a relocation of those stalls to ensure the strip facing Raglan Street will be kept clear with a walkway of up to 15 metres, and stalls to be separated by a minimum of eight metres
Also, stalls at the front of the main strip will be removed which will reduce the bottle neck at the Raglan Street entrance as well as the bottom section of the market will will also be removed to reduce the overall size of the market and encourage people to stay for a shorter period of time.
On Wednesday, Victoria recorded another 73 cases of COVID-19, following on from 64 cases on Tuesday and 75 cases on Monday. From 11.59pm Wendesday night, 310,000 residents from 10, mostly northern and werstern Melbourne suburbs will be forced back into lockdown as an attempt to cut back on the rising figures.
Cr Kokocinski said it was critical that visitors to the shire do the right thing, as any slip ups which lead to COVID-19 outbreaks could mean the shutting down of whole towns.
Already, Bendigo has experienced its first case in more than a month and there are genuine fears other regional centres will soon follow.
"We welcome visitors to our shire and to the many attractions that it offers," she said.
"We do, however, encourage visitors from the Melbourne "hot zones" to follow state government direction to stay at home and ask that tourists visiting the shire adhere to mandated social distancing measures and adopt good hygiene practices.
"We have been working closely with the market organisers to put in place measures that will assist visitors to social distance, but we also ask tourists to use common sense - if you are sick or from a Melbourne 'hot spot' stay at home. Safe and sustainable tourism is important to the economic prosperity of our shire."
Residents who spoke with The Courier on Monday said there were gobsmacked at the amount of people that came to the town, and while they understood that tourism was the key financial driver for many businesses, safety and wellbeing was the most important thing.
Director Daylesford Spa Country Railway Barry Fell said despite over 70 social distancing signs placed around the market, it was clear they were being ignored at the weekend
"It was evident that some people attending refused to respect those and the general social distancing rules," Mr Fell said.
"We are acutely aware the impact the restricted market will have on the income of some of our stall holders. However, the health and wellbeing of our visitors, particularly the members of our local community who rely on the market for the supply of their fresh food and produce is our paramount concern."
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