Following calls last week for regions that reach the vaccination benchmarks to have restrictions eased sooner, the State Government on Sunday backflipped on its original stance to allow just that.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said last week country regions like East Gippsland that were on track to achieve vaccination targets well ahead of the rest of the state, should be rewarded when this was achieved. He took the matter up with the Government.
Despite previously saying Victoria would open up with alignment on city and country restrictions, on Sunday the State Government announced trials would be held in six country shires, including East Gippsland. The trials would allow an earlier easing of restrictions in these locations.
Mr Bull said he was pleased the Government had changed its mind, but was concerned about the lack of detail provided.
“As yet we do not know whether the trial sites will include large areas, townships or just selected venues. It would have been better to have some more elements of what will sit under this announcement before they provided sketchy details,” he said.
“As an example, I would not like to think it will apply to a particular business in one town and not to that same business in the next town.
“East Gippsland was selected on its high vaccination rate (approx. 85% first dose). The other shires are Buloke, Pyrenees, Warrnambool, Bass Coast, and Greater Bendigo.
“As is usual for this government, the lack of detail is worrying. Apart from not knowing who is included, there are no details on whether supports will be continued for these regions or businesses.
“However, it does recognise the need to have a tailored approach and that aspect is something that not only I support, but that has widespread backing.
“Our Premier has previously ridiculed my calls for separate rules for this sort of localised approach, but I’m pleased with this change of mind, it’s the right thing to do,” said Mr Bull.
“I just don’t think it is fair that country areas that reach the agreed targets that make us safe, should have to tread water for several more weeks to wait for the city to catch up. I’m pleased he now agrees.”