Victorian Premier Urges Regional Travel Rethink

By AAP
August 12, 2020 Updated: August 12, 2020

Premier Daniel Andrews is urging people to reconsider travelling to and from regional Victorian centres as coronavirus cases grow.

Geelong (179 active cases), Bendigo (53) and Ballarat (22) are an increasing worry to the state government despite their infection rates remaining relatively stable.

“They are very low numbers but coming off such a low base, any additional cases are of concern to us,” Andrews told reporters on Wednesday.

“But even at low numbers, we’ve just got to have that vigilance across the board so we can keep them low and, indeed, drive them down even further.”

There were another 21 deaths and 410 new cases in Victoria on Wednesday, taking the number of active cases in the state to 7877.

Metro Melbourne still makes up the bulk of them at 7144 cases, while regional local governments account for just 512.

Melbourne is in a stage-four lockdown, while the rest of the state remains under stage three provisions.

Under stage three restrictions, regional Victorians are only able to leave their homes to shop for food and essential items, to provide or receive care, for exercise, and for work or study if they can’t from home.

Andrews said the vast majority of Victoria’s 1.5 million regional residents are following the rules.

“We need to make sure that we’re not letting this virus win by us not following those rules and making choices that contribute to its spread,” he said.

He asked people to rethink commuting to or from regional Victoria to metropolitan Melbourne.

“If there’s any sense that trip could be avoided, that travel could be limited, well then that is conducive with less movement, less cases and getting to the other side of this,” he said.

“This is really an endurance test.

“All of us, whether we be in Melbourne or regional Victoria, need to apply ourselves to that task.”

Other regional communities battling considerable active infections are Colac Otway Shire (74) to Geelong’s west and Mitchell Shire (35) to Melbourne’s north.

REGIONAL LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS WITH DOUBLE-DIGIT CONFIRMED CASES
* Greater Geelong: 292 total, 179 active
* Colac Otway: 108 total, 74 active
* Greater Bendigo: 73 total, 53 active
* Ballarat: 53 total, 22 active
* Mitchell: 67 total, 35 active
* Macedon Ranges: 47 total, 27 active
* Latrobe: 42 total, 28 active
* Greater Shepparton: 32 total, 15 active
* Moorabool (near Ballarat): 26 total, 12 active
* Glenelg: 23 total, 11 active
* Golden Plains (near Ballarat and Geelong): 20 total, 11 active

By Callum Godde in Melbourne