Premier Daniel Andrews says no regional lockdown is planned

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews

Melbourne residents are increasingly worried about moving to stage 4 restrictions, but Victorian Premier Daniel had good news for regional people concerned the whole state would be in lockdown.

"Whilstever cases are low, and we've got a sense that we've got a really quick and effective public health response to each and every one of those cases, it is less likely that the rules change in regional Victoria and get harder," Mr Andrews said.

"Regional Victorians should not think there's a set of stage 3 rules coming next week or anything like that.

"While we keep those numbers low, the Chief Health Officer has confidence that the strategy is working."

He said he wanted to get to a point where pubs in regional areas could have one person per two square metres instead of one per four square metres, plus more easing of restrictions separate from those in Melbourne.

"I think it's likely the current rules will stay in place and I haven't ruled out the notion of opening up further ... but that can't happen in regional Victoria unless we've got low numbers and pretty steady numbers to give us the confidence we're tracking and tracing every single positive case," he said.

IN OTHER NEWS:

A regional health team has been set up in Geelong to track coronavirus cases, with five more to be set up in other parts of regional Victoria.

In response to reports of country people still travelling to Melbourne, Mr Andrews told regional media there were valid reasons, such as medical appointments, for travelling to and from the lockdown zone.

That did not include visiting his mum near Wangaratta.

"I haven't seen her since Christmas because of fires and COVID ... it's just not appropriate for me to be travelling that distance," he said.

"People need to be conscious of the fact that while that treatment is important and we don't want to put a barrier up to getting that care, they need to be particularly careful about how wildly infectious this thing is.

"Go to your appointment and go home, don't be going to other places for your safety, for the safety of local areas."

Mr Andrews also committed to making a personal phone call to Gladys Berejiklian in an attempt to make what he described as "common sense" changes to issues with the border permit system.

Many residents in Indigo and Towong shires in the North East have been struggling for more than a week to get a permit because their postcodes were left off the list, despite being within 50 kilometres of the border.

"I'll write to Gladys and then I'll ring her," Mr Andrews said on Friday.

"We get along well and work well together."

He would like to see the need for border checkpoints removed.

"I'd like it opened as soon as possible, but that's why all of us need to stay the course on the different settings in different parts of the state ... keep numbers down in regional Vic," he said.

"That's the only way to get us to having the border open.

"Having grown up not very far from that border, I've got a really good sense of how challenging it would be."

This story No regional lockdown planned, says Victorian Premier first appeared on The Canberra Times.