Regional Victoria's Committees for Cities have swung their support behind a campaign to safely ease more restrictions and uncouple the rest of the state from Melbourne's coronavirus numbers.
In a letter to Premier Daniel Andrews signed by the Committee for Ballarat's chief executive Michael Poulton, as well as the heads of the committees for Geelong, Shepparton, Gippsland, Echuca-Moama, and Portland, the group calls for the state government to acknowledge the data.
"Any further delay in moving to the Final Step for regional Victoria would seem to disregard the Victorian Government's own assertion that lifting restrictions must be driven by data. The data for regional Victoria meets the Government's stated targets," the letter states.
"Growing community fatigue has the potential to erode the good work done to date; moving to the Final Step in the Roadmap for regional Victoria is due recognition for the cooperation and compliance that has allowed us to get to where we are.
"With restricted movement of people out of Melbourne, we believe Victoria can be confident that the risk of further community transmission in the regions is very low.
Jointly with our regional Victorian 'Committee for' colleagues, we believe it is now time for the Victoria Government to recognise the efforts of regional Victoria in suppressing the virus and allow us to move to the final step in the state’s re-opening roadmap #easeregionalVicpic.twitter.com/zNOaIGK4EQ— CommitteeforBallarat (@Comm4Ballarat) October 12, 2020
"The recent Kilmore outbreak, and the excellent public health response to it, shows that containment strategies are in place and can be effective."
Mr Poulton said it was important to note the group was not calling for all restrictions to be removed, but instead moving to a COVID-safe environment.
"This is about moving to a COVID normal sooner than Melbourne because the data suggests we've got this under control," he said.
"Over the weekend, we were thinking this is something we have to initiate as a joint thing across the state.
"The point of contention is reassessing whether regional Victoria is tethered to numbers coming out of metropolitan Melbourne - if it's driven by data, we should be saying this is what's happening in regional Victoria, it's safe to move to the final step, because we've actually got the numbers under control."
The letter comes the day after a similar campaign was launched by regional chambers of commerce, including Commerce Ballarat, which also called for restrictions to be eased so more people can get back to work.
On Tuesday morning, 12 new cases were announced, and one more death - five active cases remain in Mitchell Shire, the only regional cases.
It's expected that Mr Andrews will announce some changes to restrictions on October 18.
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Remember to always maintain good hand hygiene, wear a mask when in public, and keep a 1.5 metre distance from others at all times.
Anyone with the slightest symptoms is urged to get a test immediately, and must self-isolate until results come back - book online at bchc.org.au or phone 4311 1571 to make an appointment.
For more information, visit the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website, or phone the hotline on 1800 675 398 for advice if you are displaying symptoms.
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