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Victorian towns plunged into lockdown despite never recording a COVID-19 case

Four regional local government areas in Victoria have never identified a single case of coronavirus – but are now facing a strict Stage 3 lockdown.

Indigo, Towong, Buloke and Hindmarsh will enter the six week lockdown from midnight on Wednesday.

Residents of Indigo and Towong, which comprise of about 72 suburbs along the border with New South Wales, are likely to be hardest hit.

Many need to cross the now-closed border to NSW for work or grocery shopping and have watched as their whole lives flipped upside down despite seeming so far away from COVID-19. 

So far, nobody in their region has been diagnosed with the deadly respiratory infection, but people are nervous the latest outbreak could impact them.

Four regional local government areas in Victoria have never identified a single case of coronavirus (pictured in blue)

The Indigo Shire (Main Street pictured) has a population of about 15,000 people, and relies heavily on tourism - which was substantially impacted during the first lockdown and will be again this time around

The Indigo Shire (Main Street pictured) has a population of about 15,000 people, and relies heavily on tourism – which was substantially impacted during the first lockdown and will be again this time around

Wendy Killeen, a winemaker at the Rutherglen winery in Indigo Shire, admitted she feels ‘a bit scared’ at the prospect of the virus reaching her community.

‘We have a lot of visitors, we’re only three hours from Melbourne. Those people could be carriers and that’s a risk nobody wants to take,’ she told The Australian.

‘We closed our doors on March 27 and reopened June 18… we’ll have to shut our doors again on Thursday.’

Ms Killeen explained that her daughter and a handful of staff live on the other side of the border and had been battling with authorities to get their permits sorted.  

‘Now we’ve had this lockdown. It’s difficult but I do ­appreciate why it has to happen,’ she said.

The Indigo Shire has a population of about 15,000 people, and relies heavily on tourism – which was substantially impacted during the first lockdown and will be again this time around.

Pictured: Empty trams cross in front of Flinders Street Station on Sunday. Melbourne residents are banned from leaving their homes between 8pm and 5am other than for a small number of essential reasons under an unprecedented night-time curfew

Pictured: Empty trams cross in front of Flinders Street Station on Sunday. Melbourne residents are banned from leaving their homes between 8pm and 5am other than for a small number of essential reasons under an unprecedented night-time curfew

Clinical waste removal personnel are seen at St Basil's Homes for the Aged where a COVID outbreak has devastated the residents

Clinical waste removal personnel are seen at St Basil’s Homes for the Aged where a COVID outbreak has devastated the residents

Neil Aird, CEO of Business Wodonga, critiqued the border closure and described the time it took for Premier Daniel Andrews to declare a second lockdown in Melbourne as ‘unfortunate’. 

‘In hindsight, a harder lockdown earlier should have been ­essential,’ he said. ‘This second lockdown is devastating for us.’

The Buloke Shire – which consists of about 86 suburbs but only has a population of about 5,000 – has also never recorded a case of coronavirus.

The region is known for its agricultural efforts, particularly grain and sheep production, and will now be forced to limit work as regional Victoria is plunged into Stage 3 lockdowns.    

Nineteen suburbs in the Hindmarsh Shire are in the same position, despite having recorded no COVID cases.  

The Stage 3 lockdown will come into effect at midnight on Wednesday August 5.

The Towong Shire borders on NSW which has made it difficult for residents who regularly cross the borders for work or shopping

The Towong Shire borders on NSW which has made it difficult for residents who regularly cross the borders for work or shopping

Nineteen suburbs in the Hindmarsh Shire are in the same position, despite having recorded no COVID cases

Nineteen suburbs in the Hindmarsh Shire are in the same position, despite having recorded no COVID cases

Australia's coronavirus outbreak is rapidly spiralling out of control because of the second wave of infections in Victoria

Australia’s coronavirus outbreak is rapidly spiralling out of control because of the second wave of infections in Victoria

Many of the rules will be similar to the first lockdown back in March, but wearing face masks has also been made mandatory in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus.

There will be only four acceptable reasons for people to leave their homes.

These reasons are:  

  • Grocery shopping
  • Giving or receiving care
  • Daily exercise 
  • To work or study. Anybody who can work from home, must do so 

People must not have visitors at their homes. The only exception to this rule is to visit a partner. 

Restaurants, cafes and pubs will be closed for dine-in patrons again, and all entertainment and cultural venues will also be shut.

All students will return to remote learning, and holidays must be postponed or cancelled. 

Shoppers queue into the distance outside a Costco in Melbourne to stock up ahead of Stage Four restrictions and a curfew on Sunday

Shoppers queue into the distance outside a Costco in Melbourne to stock up ahead of Stage Four restrictions and a curfew on Sunday

Bourke Street in the heart of Melbourne resembled a ghost town on Sunday night as the tough new curfew kicked in at 8pm

Bourke Street in the heart of Melbourne resembled a ghost town on Sunday night as the tough new curfew kicked in at 8pm

WHAT MELBOURNE’S STAGE FOUR LOCKDOWN MEANS FOR YOU

State of disaster: Increased police powers to enforce the lockdown. Cautions will no longer be issues, only $1,652 fines or court summons

Curfew: No one allowed outside 8pm to 5am except for work, medical, caregiving – no shopping or exercising

Distance limit: Shopping and exercise can only be done 5km from home 

Exercise: All recreational activity is banned and you can only exercise, with one other person, for one hour a day

Partners: You can visit a boyfriend or girlfriend who doesn’t live with you, even if they live more than 5km away 

Shopping: Only one person can go shopping per household per day

Cafes and restaurants stay open for takeaway, as do supermarkets, etc

Schools: All students learning from home from Wednesday unless they are vulnerable or parents are essential workers. Kindy and childcare close on Thursday (same exceptions apply)

Funerals: No change to funeral limits, but only 10 mourners can leave Melbourne to regional Victoria for one

Weddings: Completely banned

Public transport: Slashed after 8pm and cancelled late at night 

Community sport: All community sport across Victoria is now banned. Only exercise is allowed within the permitted public gathering limits of two people.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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