Regional Victoria OPEN, not happy

Victoria records 334 new cases of COVID-19, 1 death

Continuing on from the day before when Victoria recorded 325 new cases of COVID-19 of which 324 were locally acquired and one case was in a returned international traveller in hotel quarantine, the state has reported another 334 new cases in the last 24 hours. While regional Victoria is now open, one more person has died with the virus in Victoria.

Yesterday, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian outlined a staggard roadmap out of lockdowns to reopen the state and highlighting the need to get vaccinated if people wanted to snatch back some normalcy in the new normal post pandemic Australia.

Only last week, changing tune, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had hinted at a plan which did not have the number “zero” in his scheme of things. As a result, despite some cases reported in regional Victoria, from today regional Victoria – except for Shepparton – is open but with strict limits on numbers and some restrictions still applicable.

David Strange, who operates a pub in Metung in East Gippsland appearing on Channel Nine’s Today program the current arrangement to reopen regional Victoria make his business, and many others, not financially viable.

In the new freedom provided to regional Victoria, hospitality venues can welcome back just 10 patrons inside and 20 outdoors.

“The business community is disappointed, we just would have liked more so we can run our businesses and employ people and serve the customers who want to come out of lockdown and get out of home,” Mr Strange told Today.

“I see Gladys up your way has come out with something which is terrific, which gives people hope. We have Christmas five minutes away. I have to employ people. I have to train people, I have to order goods in. I have to prepare for it. And you know, it’s not a five-minute job.

“It is a good four months’ work ordering all the supplies in. The suppliers have the same problem I have got, so we need to plan and we need months of planning.

“It’s not a five-minute job running a business like a hospitality industry.”

The patron caps will make it hard for businesses to make any profit, he said.

What is different in Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s plan is the number of patrons is governed by their status of being vaccinated or not – not capped by the NSW Health orders.  Under the NSW’s roadmap out of lockdown, freedom will come in two stages depending on the state population achieving full vaccination rates of 70 and 80 per cent.

The first wave of freedoms will occur on the Monday after the state reaches a vaccination rate of 70 per cent of eligible adults who are vaccinated with two doses.

A second wave of freedoms will the occur on the Monday after the state reaches a vaccination rate of 80 per cent double-dosed.

There is no specific date on when NSW will begin easing restrictions. It has been left to the people of NSW to achieve the targets as soon as they want.

In Victoria, the caps and numbers are decided by authorities while the population is urged to get fully vaccinated as soon as they can.

Pessimistic though it may sound for regional operators, it cannot be ruled out that Victoria races ahead of NSW in achieving those vaccination targets.

To achieve the targets of 70 and 80 per cent, Premier Daniel Andrews and his government are continuously extending the number of vaccination hubs and making vaccines available in areas where needed most.

Operators like David are also doing the best they can in the circumstances they find themselves in.

“It is not financially viable but I am hoping it will only be a week or two and if it was four or five months it would be a disaster but fingers crossed Dan will come around.”

David told Channel Nine his staff will be fully vaccinated soon.  Ninety per cent were already jabbed, he said.

“The other 10 per cent are just waiting their turn because they are young kids. 

Also read: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine now approved for use in Australia

By the month end, 100 per cent of his staff will be vaccinated.

As for patrons, Mr Strange said those who are not vaccinated won’t be welcome.

“I can’t have people come into my venue and giving each other this virus that could kill you for a simple vaccination, and my staff.

“I have to provide a safe working place and I can’t have that sort of thing going around in the pub.”

Critics of Daniel Andrews can blame him of scare mongering, the reality is, unless majority of Victorians are vaccinated, the state health system can be brough under real threat of collapse should the numbers being to rise.

It is not in anybody’s interest not to lower that risk. All Victorians are requested to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

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