Community rallies

THE Mitchell Shire community has rallied together amid fresh COVID-19 lockdown restrictions as Victoria faces an uncertain few days.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Friday a five-day ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown to combat a fresh outbreak of the virus.

The state has returned to stage four restrictions, meaning the only reasons to leave home are shopping for food, caregiving or compassionate reasons, essential work and exercise.

The snap decision created havoc for hospitality and retail businesses that were gearing up for the Valentine’s Day holiday on Sunday, but Mitchell Shire residents backed struggling businesses wherever possible.

Kilmore’s Rose Café thanked customers who ordered Valentine’s boxes and other takeaway items during the weekend.

“[W]e did not expect to sell so many boxes. We had a great response … [and it] definitley saved us from throwing out all our fresh strawberries, fresh rolls, pancake mix [and] lots of other fresh food we were stocked with ready for the weekend,” a post on the café’s Facebook page said.

Kilmore Florist also reported plenty of community support on its Facebook page.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you to our wonderful customers in the Mitchell Shire and surrounding suburbs. We are in awe of your support in the last couple of days and of course the past year,” the post said.

In response to the lockdown Mitchell Shire Council suspended a number of services while moving others online.

Childcare remains open, but libraries, swimming pools, gyms, stadiums and visitor information centres are closed to the public, along with council offices.

A full list of how council services are affected by the lockdown is available at www.mitchellshire.vic.gov.au/news/service-updates-
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Mayor Rhonda Sanderson said she knew the region would pull together in the face of a third lockdown.

“Our community is adaptable, resilient and strong. We have done this before, we can do it again,” she said.

“While we’re all hoping it is short, we can all play our part in this by following the advice from Department of Health and make this an effective circuit breaker.

“While we’re disappointed some events have had to be cancelled such as the Seymour Community Open Day and Wallan Olde Time Market, we look forward to helping the community reconnect soon.

“Please also know there are services and help available in Mitchell Shire. We’ve partnered with a number of local organisations to provide central access to a range of COVID-19 support services. Call us on 5734 6200.”

Education provider GOTAFE closed its campuses until at least Thursday in response to the lockdown.

“We made the decision that training will not be conducted … to ensure that no staff across the institute are put under unnecessary pressure,” a GOTAFE spokesperson said.

“GOTAFE call centres and trainers will be available to support students who may have questions and concerns during this period of paused delivery. All support services are also available during this time. We will continue to monitor the situation and will keep our key stakeholders and students updated should anything change.”

When the Review went to press yesterday there was no official confirmation the lockdown would be extended past Thursday, although Mr Andrews has the ability to enforce a longer lockdown if required.

When announcing the lockdown last week, Mr Andrews said the lockdown was a difficult but necessary step to deal with a more infections variant of COVID-19.

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