Noah Frost, above, of Broadford with his teddy bears was one of many Mitchell Shire children to place teddy bears or decorate with rainbows the front of their houses, giving people someting to look out for and brighten their day during social restrictions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Other children pictured are, top, Ethan, Eliza and Abbey, of Heathcote Junction; middle left, Jordi and Lexi-Anne of Wallan; top middle, William of Broadford; and right, Jocelyn Hunter, of Kilmore. ​

Mitchell Shire residents are now in stage three restrictions of COVID-19 shutdown, which means people are advised to only leave their homes for essential reasons.

Five cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed in the Mitchell Shire, with 821 in Victoria
Sixteen people have died from the virus in Australia, including four people in Victoria.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison advised people to only leave their homes for essential shopping, medical care, exercise and for work and education, where they cannot work from home.

The restrictions also mean no more than two people can gather in public unless from the same household.

Mr Morrison also advised people 70 years or older to self-isolate.

Mitchell Shire Council closed all playgrounds and parks across the shire last week, due to the potential for the virus to spread by touching surfaces.

The council also closed its Seymour and Pyalong resource recovery centres, but Broadford’s tip will extend its hours to open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am until 4pm, with extra precautions now in place.

At this stage, there are no changes to kerbside collection and council meetings will continue but will be held at Broadford Shire Hall to maintain social distancing.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the stage three restrictions would start from midnight last night, and would be reviewed after four weeks.

“Most Victorians are doing the right thing and I’m grateful to them. But we continue to see instances of people gathering in significant numbers so we must do more,” he said.

“We will not be breaking up household family dinners – but BBQs with the neighbours cannot happen anymore.

“If people breach these directions, they face on-the-spot fines of $1652 for individuals and $9,913 for businesses. Larger fines can also be issued through the courts.”

Mr Andrews said the event that Victorians were living through were unprecedented.
“Life is going to look very different for a while but if we don’t make these changes now, the virus will continue to spread, and our health system will be overwhelmed,” he said.

The economical impact of the pandemic is being felt across the Mitchell Shire, with many businesses having to shut down last week.

Many hospitality businesses have adapted to offering takeaway food and home delivering, including major employers Hogan’s Hotel in Wallan and Trackside in Kilmore.

The National Cabinet has agreed to a moratorium on evictions for the next six months for residential and commercial tenants who are experiencing financial distress due to the impact of coronavirus.

Late yesterday Mr Morrison announced a new ‘Jobkeeper’ wage subsidy, giving eligible businesses up to $1500 a fortnight for each employee in order to keep people working.