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Mitchell Shire residents request food donations, businesses reel in ‘last straw’ lockdown

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Mitchell Shire residents and businesses are reeling after regional Victoria was placed back into lockdown on Saturday.

Love in Action Wallan, a community group providing essential supplies to the community, posted an urgent request for food supplies on Facebook over the weekend, after it was inundated with requests for assistance.

“This current lockdown has been the last straw for many of our families and they are doing it so very tough. Some families have both partners losing their jobs [or] income.

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“Our food stores are the lowest they have been due to the demand and in order to continue helping as many people as we can we are asking for food donations and lots of them.”

Premier Daniel Andrews called the lockdown on Saturday morning starting at 1pm.

Victoria’s daily case numbers also reached a record high for this outbreak yesterday morning, with 71 new cases.

Statewide, the five reasons to leave home are in place, with mandatory masks, workforce limits for construction, and workforce permits required for anyone who cannot work from home.

A package of automatic cash grants, jointly funded by the federal and state governments will provide regional Victorian businesses with support during lockdown, without the need for applications.

A total of 18,000 businesses in regional Victoria will automatically receive payments of $5600, $2800 per week from August 21 to September 2 when lockdown is due to lift, if they have previously received grants under the business costs assistance round two or July extension programs.

Automatic payments of $5000, $10,000 and $20,000 per week, tiered according to venue capacity, will be made to more than 2000 licensed hospitality premises in regional Victoria that have previously received grants under the licensed hospitality venue fund 2021 or July extension programs.

Commonwealth COVID-19 Disaster Payments will apply to workers and sole-trader businesses who have lost work hours in regional areas, as they do in metropolitan areas.

In Seymour, Little Stones Cafe owner Kris Medson had to cut staff to cope with a 60 to 75 per cent drop in turnover while the cafe operates as takeaway only.

“We’ve had to completely redo all of our rosters and slash our staffing, which is devastating,” she said.

“Most days we would have about six staff on and today [Monday] we have two.”

Ms Medson said she had seen an increasing number of hospitality businesses decide not to trade this time, due to the short notice and general lockdown fatigue.

She said her decision to open was driven by the urge to maintain normalcy for herself, her staff and the community.

“A lot of people have thrown their hands in the air, it’s really tempting to do that, but we also know there’s a certain amount of normalcy for us that’s important and also for the community that’s important,” she said.

Ms Medson successfully applied for a licensed hospitality venue fund grant in June and has received all the automatic top ups since, which she said had made life easier.

“Each payment has been automatic, which is really good because I suppose the bureaucracy of filling it out each time is quite frustrating,” she said.

“It definitely doesn’t mean that we can keep our staff on the same level that we would, but it does meant that we’re not looking down a dark hole.”

With the Delta variant is impacting young people at a much higher rate than the variants Victoria has previously dealt with, in both metropolitan and regional areas restrictions have been tightened, particularly relating to childcare.

Schools remain closed, and now only vulnerable children or children of essential workers are allowed to attend childcare.

Outdoor playgrounds have also been closed, as well as skate parks, basketball hoops and outdoor gym equipment.

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