COMMUNITIES on Ballarat's outskirts are urged to act as if they are part of the city's lockdown, as one mayor likened the COVID threat to being surrounded by bushfire.
Moorabool mayor Tom Sullivan said his shire, which sits between seven different municipalities, all of which have recorded some cases, likened the situation to being in the middle of a bushfire and waiting to see what would occur.
The shire features towns such as Gordon, Bungaree, Mount Egerton and Elaine, takes in Kooweinguboora and Blackwood, and stretches to Ballan and Bacchus Marsh, bordering Melbourne's outer western suburb hotspots.
It's watch and act, be alert, be aware, stay away from hotspot areas unless you have to go there.Tom Sullivan, Moorabool mayor
"It's watch and act, be alert, be aware, stay away from hotspot areas unless you have to go there," Cr Sullivan said.
"Obviously there are some people who have to go to work or medical appointments, but if it's not something you don't have to do, we suggest to not go there for your own well-being and for the well-being of your community...
"Because it's gone on for the best part of 18 months now and there's no signs of getting back to normal life, at the moment, it's a little bit disheartening for people.
"We know even vaccinated people can still carry the virus, but hopefully this lockdown in Ballarat does achieve its stated aims as people in the regions and it can be resolved within a week."
AT A GLANCE
Cr Sullivan's safety call backs the message from Ballarat Health Services leaders.
Grampians Public Health Unit medical director Rosemary Aldrich said particularly those people who conduct their daily lives within the City of Ballarat, but live just outside the city's "arbitrary" boundaries, to be as careful and as cautious as possible.
City of Ballarat entered a seven-day lockdown from Thursday but the lockdown does not apply to communities in bordering shires of Hepburn, Pyrenees, Golden Plains and Moorabool. Some townships are less than 10 minutes from City limits.
"What we have found is, of course, there is a lot of traffic between our communities which surround Ballarat and are in the Ballarat LGA itself...While those communities are not strictly in lockdown we're still asking people who live in those communities to be very careful and very cautious and very mindful of any interactions they may be having with anyone in the community, not only in Ballarat," Associate Professor Aldrich said.
"It is possible that there are already others outside Ballarat who might have visited some of the exposure sites, which are coming to our attention."
It is possible that there are already others outside Ballarat who might have visited some of the exposure sites, which are coming to our attention.Rosemary Aldrich, Grampians Public Health Unit medical director
Associate Professor Aldrich said everyone should be mindful to get tested for even the slightest COVID symptoms, maintain careful physical and personal hygiene, including mask wearing, and keep a close watch on unfolding exposure sites for the region.
People living outside City of Ballarat boundaries are permitted to enter for authorised work, healthcare and essential shopping.
Hepburn Shire mayor Lesley Hewitt said Daylesford was a great example of how a community could unite to make sure the virus did not spread.
"We had that [active case] report last Friday and I've got no doubt the reason we haven't had further cases is everyone has done the right thing," Cr Hewitt said.
"The person with symptoms did everything in line, people kept socially distanced, they wore masks and the entire Daylesford community was supportive of that.
"People are respectful and understanding of the time frame and that's the great thing about regional Victoria is we have communities that do the right thing and look after others.
"We've seen Shepparton get through it, and I'm sure Ballarat will be able to do the same."
People are respectful and understanding of the time frame and that's the great thing about regional Victoria is we have communities that do the right thing and look after others.Lesley Hewitt, Hepburn mayor
Cr Hewitt said other than medical appointments which couldn't be changed, she discouraged anyone from Hepburn to travel to Ballarat
"Hepburn Shire as a whole is likely to be impacted by the Ballarat situation as a lot of resident work in Ballarat or work in Hepburn and live in Ballarat," Cr Hewitt said.
"My message is, comply with the restrictions and lockdown requirements, take advice anyway from the health services providers.
"And If you haven't, please get vaccinated, the opportunity to be vaccinated is available and we've got increasing numbers doing that. The risk of COVID spread outweighs the anxiety associated with the vaccines. If you're concerned please speak to your doctor."
IN OTHER NEWS
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.