The Committee for Greater Mornington has described Victoria’s snap COVID-19 lockdown as a “devastating blow” to Victorian communities and businesses, including those on the Mornington Peninsula.
The committee acknowledged the health risk to Melburnians infected with the so-called UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – and the mental health impacts and financial strain the latest directive placed on Victorians facing further isolation, interrupted trading and cancelled plans.
Committee executive officer Briony Hutton said: “This third lockdown will be another setback for Mornington Peninsula businesses that are just now catching up with trade after last year’s 111-day lockdown, which saw so many local businesses go backward or out of business. Our local retail, hospitality, tourism, weddings and events industries will once again be forced to halt trade over a bumper Valentine’s Day weekend, which would ordinarily see Mornington Peninsula shops, restaurants and wineries full.”
Committee member Greg O’Donoghue, the owner of popular hospitality venue Green Olive at Red Hill, said: “This weekend being Valentine’s Day and the re-launch of all our food and wine experiences at the farm has been completely wiped out with less than 10 hours’ notice. Again we lay off all our staff until further notice, apologise to customers, throw away food and take yet again a significant financial hit.”
Despite having no active cases at the time, the Peninsula was included in last year’s metropolitan Melbourne lockdown, which effectively halted the region’s crucial tourism and hospitality sectors. The extended lockdown saw a prolonged escalation of poor mental health outcomes, particularly among young people, and disproportionate job losses on the Peninsula, the committee said. It cited a survey by the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council that found 44 per cent of Peninsula businesses lost at least 50 per cent of their revenue in 2020, 23 per cent lost at least half of their staff, and 5900 jobs were lost.
The committee said it hoped the State Government’s hotel quarantine and contact-tracing systems were “up to the task of managing this outbreak of the UK-variant” so the current five-day lockdown did not morph into another extended lockdown.
“The committee hopes that this lockdown will be the ‘short and sharp circuit-breaker’ that it was announced to be so that local businesses can get back on the road to recovery for Labour Day long weekend and Easter holiday trading, and families and friends can be reunited,” Ms Hutton said.
“Should the lockdown be extended, the committee’s continuing position will be for the Mornington Peninsula to be classified as regional for the purposes of public health orders, provided that there are no local outbreaks of COVID-19.”
Ms Hutton said there were currently no reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the Peninsula.