At Swan Hill Rural City Council’s scheduled meeting on Tuesday, 17 August, Councillors resolved to call on Federal and State governments alike to allow regional communities with very few or nil cases of COVID-19 to have a different level of restrictions to metropolitan areas.
Swan Hill Rural City Council Mayor, Bill Moar said COVID19 responses, lockdowns and ongoing restrictions are creating extreme pressure and strain within regional communities.
“There is a strong case for treating rural communities in a different way to densely populated areas when managing any infectious pandemic.
“The current COVID-19 response measures implemented to-date are not proportionate to the risks experienced in rural areas.
“To date rural communities have been compliant and understanding but they see an ever increasing gap between the justification for increased restrictions and the real on-ground experience in rural Victoria,” Cr Moar said.
Cr Moar said Council would be suggesting a number of solutions and improvements:
- Lockdowns should be imposed using Local Government borders.
- The government should instigate a policy whereby lockdowns are implemented by local government area and where it is felt that one LGA boundary is insufficient to contain the spread of the virus then two or more adjoining LGA’s, should be wrapped up in the one lockdown. That will allow people within adjacent LGA’s, to move between home and work.
- There should be one set of rules for highly urbanised areas such as metropolitan Melbourne. A second set of rules for regional cities and those peri urban areas on the outskirts of Melbourne and third set of rules that recognises the sparsity of population in rural Victoria.
- Council supports and is prepared to actively promote its support for increased vaccination rates within all communities. That said, Swan Hill Rural City Council also recognises that it is an individual’s choice to vaccinate or not vaccinate.
- Council strongly supports the QR code track and trace system.
- Our border bubble boundaries and rules need to be harmonised. The differences in rules between Victoria and New South Wales and South Australia leads to confusion.
- The rules around restriction of movement should be well and truly settled by now, and not subject to constant review and change.
- We call for better investment in our Health System. In regional Victoria, as well as centralised facilities.
Cr Moar said Council would be writing to State and Federal Members of Parliament and imploring them to consider our expressed concerns regarding the current pandemic response.