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23 June 2021
The entire June 23, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
A Wimmera business leader is hopeful improved communication with State Government officials will help map out a future framework for COVID-19 lockdowns in regional Victoria.
Business Horsham ambassador Stacey Taig met with Small Business Minister Jaala Pulford last week to discuss the impact lockdowns were having on regional businesses.
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Ms Taig said meeting with state ministers was part of plans to advocate for a more targeted approach to future lockdowns.
“More and more the government is acknowledging the importance of chambers and business groups and their connection with the business community,” she said.
“We now have regular one-on-one meetings with ministers, including Ms Pulford.
“When we last met we touched on various issues regarding coming out of restrictions and the limits that apply to various industry sectors.”
Business Horsham is backing representative body Victorian Regional Business Alliance in its campaign to urge the government to consider a ‘more direct response’ to lockdowns.
Ms Taig said she believed the State Government needed to consider more appropriate measures for regional Victorians following economic impacts associated with a seven-day circuit-breaker lockdown earlier this month.
“Obviously with the delta strain of coronavirus, the government wasn’t aware of where it was or how fast it would spread, so we understand why the lockdowns happened,” she said.
“But hopefully regional areas can be viewed a little more leniently moving forward. Those are the discussions we’re currently having with the ministers.”
Ms Pulford said State Government responses to COVID-19 outbreaks were based on advice from medical experts and chief health officer Brett Sutton.
“Throughout the pandemic we have acted on the best health advice and in the interests of protecting all Victorians,” she said.
“The role played by regional businesses and communities in containing the spread of the virus has been magnificent – and highly valued.”
As part of this month’s lockdown, the State Government reimposed patron caps in hospitality and retail establishments, made face masks mandatory again and tightened rules around signing into businesses and workplaces to mitigate the risk of the virus.
Ms Taig said while Victoria was emerging out of the harsher lockdown period, Wimmera businesses were still feeling the pinch of what had turned into weeks of tightened restrictions.
“We talk about the snap lockdowns only being a number of days, but it’s a compounding effect from all the past lockdowns,” she said.
“Businesses only seemed to be just clawing their way out before they got knocked back down again.”
Ms Taig said despite a 25-kilomtere travel limit lifting for Melburnians, restrictions were still limiting potential trade for businesses.
“The problem still remains that you can only accept a small number of customers into your business,” she said.
“We all know lockdowns are necessary to maintain the health and wellbeing of individuals, but we must find a way we can do it that minimises the impact on businesses.”
– Dylan De Jong