With businesses on the cusp of re-opening under step three of the coronavirus plan, Ballarat pubs, shops and cafes are turning their attention to ensuring differing restrictions do not compromise safety with an influx of Melbourne visitors.
While region-to-region tourism has been flagged as part of today's announcement from Premier Daniel Andrews, non-essential visitors from metropolitan Melbourne are likely to remain prohibited from travel for some time.
The disparity has raised the possibility of the increased temptation of visitors to take advantage of retail and hospitality outlets opening in the regions, compromising the safety of businesses that want to remain open and advance out of lockdown.
Looking at what can be done to protect our region, Victorian president of the Australian Hotels Association (AHA), David Canny, is calling on businesses to do their part in ensuring its patrons are indeed allowed to be in their venue.
Speaking to The Courier, Mr Canny said his businesses would check drivers' licences to help keep the community safe.
"We will do what we have to do," he said.
"We just need to get going... regional Victoria should get moving. If this is the mechanism we have to use to stop people from Melbourne coming out of lockdown so be it. We just hope people do the right thing."
The latest data indicates the trigger for step three for regional Victoria, which will allow outdoor seating at cafes and pubs and less restricted travel, should be reached this week.
The 14-day rolling case average has dropped to 3.9, with just three mystery cases found in the regions in the past two weeks. These are expected to drop off the 14-day count in the near future.
While Mr Canny knows the tourism industry is hurting during this period, he added his belief that if regional Victoria does open up, the first thing that should be prioritised is supporting locals.
"This opening up should be all about looking after your locals. That should be the emphasis at this stage," he continued."
The latest data indicates the trigger for step three, which will allow outdoor seating at cafes and pubs and less restricted travel, should be reached early this week.
The 14-day rolling average has dropped to 3.9, meaning regional Victoria just needs to last two weeks without a mystery case.
There have been just three mystery cases found in the regions in the last two weeks, but they are expected to drop off the 14-day count in the near future.
Mr Canny's stance has been backed by many within the community, including Vicki McGuigan, owner of popular retail space Studio g.a.s, who said her business will do it's part to keep the region safe.
"I think it's definitely the right thing to do," she said.
"It'll be just until Melbourne gets out of their lockdown and can start to travel again. Otherwise you're putting country Victoria back and risk and we'd all be headed back to square one."
These sentiments were echoed by Delacombe Town Centre manager Garrath Holdstock, who added the centre would wait until Premier Daniel Andrews' official announcement before giving tenants any directives.
"I think that's the most reasonable approach. Regional Victoria needs to remain protected," he said.
"We're waiting for the announcement tomorrow from the Premier and as soon as that comes through we'll be having talks with our tenants about the next step."
The premier has also flagged further announcements about the police road checkpoints and travel rules which are key to controlling non-essential travel from areas like Melbourne.
Victoria Police confirmed its checkpoints around the region would remain into the future.
"Currently vehicle checkpoints are in place across seven major arterial roads to ensure residents of Metropolitan Melbourne are adhering to the current stage four restrictions," a Victoria Police spokesperson said.
"We know the majority of people in our community have been doing the right thing and we ask that everyone continues to abide by the Chief Health Officer's restrictions.
"However, if people choose to blatantly and deliberately breach the directions of the Chief Health Officer, they will receive an infringement notice. It is crucial we all abide by these measures for the health of every Victorian. We continually review our operational model in line with the Chief Health Officer directive."
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