Latrobe City Mayor Sharon Gibson is calling on residents to “be kind” to one another as the municipality was plunged into a snap seven-day lockdown.
Cr Gibson said she was “not surprised” when health officials made the call late last night considering the numbers of local cases that emerged yesterday afternoon.
“I assumed we would go into lockdown and it was consistent with what the state government did in other regional areas when the number of cases went up,” Cr Gibson said.
However, Cr Gibson was also calling on locals to hold back from blaming people for rising cases in the Valley, particularly after cases have been linked to a home gathering on Saturday night.
“Now is not the time to point fingers, we need to work together and be kind to one another. We are a community. There are many people doing it tough,” she said.
“I’m concerned people are not coping, I’m not saying lockdown shouldn’t happen, I’m concerned about people’s mental health. It’s taking its toll and blaming people is not helping.”
Member for Morwell Russell Northe said it was “frustrating” that the lockdown was called at such short notice, with impacts on residents and local businesses.
But he said targeted lockdowns in local government areas was a “better proposition” than plunging the entire state into lockdown.
“This demonstrates that we didn’t need the levels of lockdown we’ve been having for many months and months on end,” Mr Northe said.
Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath also welcomed the targeted lockdown after the Nationals had been pushing for LGA restrictions rather than Victoria-wide closures.
“We have seen the state government implement sensible regional lockdowns in Ballarat and other LGAs, by the nature of the outbreak, now it’s the Latrobe Valley’s turn,” Ms Bath said.
“No one welcomes lockdowns, but it’s not surprising it occurred, it’s frustrating, and my heart goes out to the shops and businesses that have to close again.”
Ms Bath said this was important time for Latrobe City to boost its flagging vaccination rates – particularly as 5000 extra vaccinations have been made available in the Valley.
She also thanked those who went out to get tested, and thanked the region’s first responders and testing station staff who “sprang into action” when the lockdown was announced.
“We praise people who checked the exposure sites to get tested. This is showing strong community spirit to protect each other and to be safe themselves,” Ms Bath said.
“There will always be a minority of those who choose to not follow the rules, but we need to focus on getting out of lockdowns. It’s not helpful to want retribution for these incidents.”