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    Terry Weeks at 2021 Grampians Ride to Remember in Ararat.

Reassurance on COVID support for Ararat events

Ararat Rural City Council has encouraged event planners and businesses in the municipality to ‘reach out’ for help in planning for changing COVID-19 restrictions.

Chief executive Tim Harrison said the council had been working with businesses and community groups on planning issues.

“The council is here to support the community to remain resilient and come back stronger than ever,” he said.

“While the health crisis is a relatively new threat to us, we have seen our community regularly face challenges such as droughts, fires, floods and we always come back stronger. The resilience we have seen before is what the council wants to foster now. 

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“Helping translate the rules and implementing the State Government’s resources for COVID safety is one of the first steps to installing confidence back in the community to continue our recovery.”

Council emergency manager co-ordinator Joel Farrow has been working with community groups that manage facilities to ensure they can make the most of circumstances while obeying safety guidelines.

Mr Farrow said the council had been providing signs and helping set up resources and guidelines such as QR codes throughout the municipality.

Dr Harrison urged businesses and event organisers to avoid becoming disheartened.

“Until we reach a complete vaccine roll-out there will likely be ongoing changes to restrictions, however there is still potential for great events to go ahead,” he said.

“The Grampians Ride to Remember was a great example.

“Community events and small businesses are the lifeblood of our community. It is important that we do what we can to rally behind them.”

Dr Harrison said businesses requiring help were welcome to call the economic development team on 5355 0264 and community groups and event organisers could call a community and events team on 5355 0257.

Vaccine roll-out

Member for Wannon Dan Tehan, meanwhile, welcomed Therapeutic Goods Administration approval of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in Australia.

With the roll-out of a Pfizer vaccine underway, Mr Tehan said a thorough assessment process meant Australia now had two safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.

“The approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine comes after rigorous assessment from our independent medical regulator,” he said.

“Every safety and regulatory box have been ticked for provisional approval – and further ones will now be ticked in the lead up to March.”

The Federal Government has secured 53.8-million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Australia will import its initial supply from overseas and then manufacture its own.

“Our nation is one of a small number of countries in the world that can manufacture its own COVID-19 vaccine and that is a point of pride,” Mr Tehan said.

Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt said the AstraZeneca vaccine would help save and protect lives.

“The global evidence is of overwhelming protection against serious illness, hospitalisation and loss of life,” he said.