NOW, even more than ever, we need to do the right thing and this includes strong support for each other, the region's leaders say, as we re-enter stage three restrictions this week.
City of Ballarat mayor Ben Taylor and Commerce Ballarat chief Jodie Gillett say they feel for region's business industry already hit hard by the first major lockdown in this pandemic.
While this will mean hospitality will be back to takeaway only, much about business operations across the state will be announced today.
Premier Daniel Andrews declared a State of Disaster for Victoria, as of 6pm last night. Victoria Police and other authorities will have greater powers and government can suspend acts of parliament.
This comes in a bid to get Victoria's soaring COVID-19 transmissions under control. There were 6322 known active cases across metropolitan and regional Victoria on Sunday with a large portion of untraceable infections.
In regional Victoria, now including the Mitchell Shire, this means back to life in lockdown as we knew it in April to mid-May. Residents can only leave home work, education, exercise and medical and care-giving from Wednesday night.
It is also a return to home-learning on Wednesday, including students in VCE years, with school as usual today and a pupil-free day Tuesday.
Cr Taylor said as much as the lockdown was disappointing and frustrating for everyone, we all had to do the best for public safety.
"It's not easy. We thought we were doing the right thing. When the virus has no boundaries, it goes wherever it wants and that's the risk," Cr Taylor said.
We really need to take this on the chin, stick together and do the right thing.City of Ballarat mayor Ben Taylor
Ms Gillett said the return to lockdowns was devastating for the Ballarat business community.
"The one small positive for cafes and restaurants is they've got through the hard yards before. It will be easier for them to revert to takeaway this time than last time," Ms Gillett said.
"What's really concerning is how many other businesses are going to make it to the other side...We encourage people to reach out when they can, to us and to each other. Public health is paramount."
The one small positive for cafes and restaurants is they've got through the hard yards before.Commerce Ballarat chief Jodie Gillett
Melbourne is set to enter stage four lockdowns with curfews to be enforced from Sunday night. Other rules prevent people from moving more than five-kilometres from their homes.
Hepburn Shire has been greatly impacted as a tourism destination popular with Melburnians in and out of lockdown.
Hepburn mayor Licia Kokocinski said a harsher stance was needed to keep the state, and the shire safe. Hepburn has no active COVID-19 cases and only recorded two cases at the start of the pandemic.
"We can no longer just warn people. You can't just give a good excuse and wave people through," Cr Kokocinski said."The numbers are terrible and we need people to take notice and squash this so the virus does not come here."
We can no longer just warn people...The numbers are terrible and we need people to take notice.Hepburn Shire mayor Licia Kokocinski
Meanwhile, Islamic Society of Ballarat celebrated its holy festival Eid al-Adha in quiet style at the weekend. ISB president Darren James said the community opted to spend the time at home for what is known as the festival of sacrifice.
He said usual traditions of sharing food, including with the less fortunate, were tempered.
Ballarat's Islamic community has a strong proportion of healthcare professionals, who Mr James said had been proactive in encouraging safety for the greater Ballarat community.
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