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22 April 2020
With infection figures suggesting an easing of COVID-19 restrictions might be on the horizon, albeit a distant one, the State Government faces its next monumental decision.
When the time is right, how does it start lifting strict social-distancing rules without reopening the floodgates for the virus to regain traction throughout society?
To say it will be a tough call is an understatement, but what we already know is that any easing of the lockdown will be gradual, as it should be, with each move under intense scrutiny.
Part of this decision-making process will involve assessing whether it is best to continue introducing blanket changes across the state, inclusive of regional as well as metropolitan and suburban areas, or to back them off in a staggered system based on regions or municipalities.
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The government, understandably, introduced State of Emergency lockdown rules in a broad statewide directive in efforts to halt the virus spread.
While much remains to be seen, the signs continue to be promising that the fierce and uncompromising response might well have worked.
We dip our lid for the moment and have fingers crossed we are on the right track in a long journey to the other side of this crisis.
Without the benefit of being experts, many would have noticed that day-to-day figures mapping the virus impact since it started have consistently pointed to metropolitan or heavily urbanised areas as infection hot spots.
At the same time, they would have noticed that many regional municipalities, cut off through travel bans and most of their population staying put, have had minimal infection rates.
A question in all of this is, particularly for many outlying regional centres and towns, does this influence what happens next?
Firstly, we insist that any decision state or federal governments make avoid placing our rural and regional areas at greater and-or unnecessary risk.
But we also wonder whether parts of regional Victoria, in the long term, might represent a front door for the government to start returning the state to some degree of normality.
It might sound more than a tad unusual or even silly to relaunch parts of regional Victoria while keeping Melbourne under lock and key.
It would also be hard to administer and just too hard.
But something has to eventually provide the state with a kick-start out of the darkness and by weight of numbers, or the lack of them, it could well be regional Victoria.
Spare a thought for the people who must make these decisions. We are in uncharted territory.
The entire April 22, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!