By Colin MacGillivray
A BEVERIDGE resident has questioned the division of the suburb between Victoria’s metropolitan and regional COVID-19 lockdown zones, claiming it has financially harmed business owners in the area.
The Beveridge postcode is divided between two municipalities, with most falling within Mitchell Shire while the eastern end, which is largely rural and undeveloped, falls within the City of Whittlesea.
The division between metropolitan and regional Victoria will end on November 8, after Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday announced Melbourne had moved to the third step of the roadmap out of lockdown and would align with regional Victoria.
But resident Alisa Orford-Roberts, who lives in the Whittlesea portion of Beveridge, said she and her neighbours had been included in the metropolitan Melbourne zone and forced to abide by more stringent COVID-19 restrictions despite living in what is generally considered a regional area.
She said the classification of the eastern end of Beveridge as metropolitan seemed arbitrary and had negatively impacted her small business.
“It’s not even half of Beveridge that is considered metropolitan, it’s 212 residents, all of whom are on anything from 20 to 700 acres,” she said.
“We’re really disgruntled. Our business has gone over as a result.
“I’m a signwriter by trade, and just prior to COVID, I went out and spent $10,000 on a laser-cutter to change direction a bit with my business. Within a couple of weeks COVID had kicked off.
“First of all, my laser-cutter broke down, but because of the lockdown I was unable to take it anywhere to get repaired.
“I spent five weeks without any income whatsoever and then had to farm out my work, which was costing me more than I was earning, simply because I had to pay somebody to do my work for me.
“That in itself has just about broken us, and being a sole trader, there has been no support whatsoever. They just say ‘bad luck’.”
The case of Beveridge is similar to Little River near Geelong, a single postcode that was split between regional and metropolitan municipalities.
After Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last month said he would ‘look into’ the case of Little River, the entire postcode was reclassified as regional last week.
Ms Orford-Roberts said the government should have implemented a similar ‘common sense’ approach to Beveridge.
“It’s just paddocks, after paddocks, after paddocks around here,” she said.
“Our nearest neighbour is half a kilometre away and we don’t see anybody from daylight to dusk on any given day, so how we’re deemed to be a threat I’ll never know.
“My son lives in suburbia on the other side of Beveridge and is considered regional, but we’re supposedly metropolitan.
“When it suits people we’re regional, and when it suits them we’re metropolitan.
“I tried to do the right thing and order my groceries online, and as soon as I put in the 3753 postcode, it said, ‘we don’t deliver to regional areas’.”
Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green said the initial inclusion of Mitchell Shire in the metropolitan Melbourne zone had meant bureaucrats were slower to recognise the impact of Beveridge being split between metropolitan and regional restrictions.
“I have been fully engaged in fighting this lack of understanding and believe that we have been close to a resolution,” she said.
“It now seems that this work is not required because of the rapid decline in case numbers and the imminent movement of the whole area to step three.
“The strategy is working and case numbers are significantly down, this means we can all look forward to the borders between regional and metro opening up soon.
“Throughout the pandemic, and as we take cautious steps towards reopening, every change to restrictions has been guided by the data and advice from the chief health officer.”
Ms Orford-Roberts said the government should move to locking down suburbs on a case-by-case basis, rather than implementing restrictions across the entire metropolitan area.