The Committee for Mornington Peninsula has called on the State Government to take a “more nuanced approach” to public health directives after the Peninsula was again included in COVID-19 restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne.
CfMP president Shannon Smit said in a statement her committee acknowledged the health risk to those Melburnians who were currently infected with COVID-19 and recognised that a swift public health response was necessary to control the spread of the disease. “We also acknowledge that at this stage there are no additional restrictions for workplaces or businesses beyond the compulsory wearing of masks,” Ms Smit said. “We remain concerned, however, that the Mornington Peninsula is subject to the same restrictions as the city and surrounding areas due to a cluster of confirmed COVID-19 cases and listed exposure sites in and north of Melbourne.
“We are of the enduring view that the current division between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria is not well-informed for the purposes of imposing public health directives and that the Government should take a more nuanced approach. From our northernmost to our southernmost township, the Mornington Peninsula is 60-120km away from our closest listed exposure site in Melbourne. By contrast, our regionally classified neighbours in Geelong are 80km away from Melbourne and are not subject to any new restrictions. Portsea, which is 120km away from their closest listed exposure site in Brunswick, is subject to the latest round of public health restrictions as part of metropolitan Melbourne, whereas Kinglake, which is 50km away from their closest listed exposure site in Epping, is not subject to any new restrictions as they form part of regional Victoria. The CfMP is concerned that the division between regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne is once again being used as a convenient method to impose swift public health directives, rather than taking into account the distance of Mornington Peninsula communities from listed exposure sites,” Ms Smit said.
The general manager of Pt. Leo Estate, Roger Lancia, said that since yesterday morning’s announcement of limits on private indoor gatherings, public outdoor gatherings and compulsory mask wearing, there had been a “huge influx” of phone calls from clients who wanted to check their bookings were secure, and even a postponement of an event scheduled for next week. “There is an immediate panic in the air and a real shift in consumer confidence,” Mr Lancia said.
Ms Smit said that throughout 2020 and over the 2021 Valentine’s Day long weekend, the Peninsula was included in the metropolitan Melbourne lockdowns despite having no active cases at the time, which effectively halted our crucial tourism and hospitality sectors. “The metropolitan Melbourne lockdowns that encompassed the Mornington Peninsula also saw a prolonged escalation of poor mental health outcomes, particularly among young people, and disproportionate job losses on the Peninsula. According to a survey conducted by the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, 44 per cent of local businesses lost at least 50 per cent of their revenue in 2020, 23 per cent had lost at least half of their staff, and 5900 jobs were lost.
“Should the lockdown be extended, the CfMP’s continuing position will be for the Mornington Peninsula to be classified as regional for the purposes of public health directives, provided that there are no local outbreaks of COVID-19.”
At this stage, there are no reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 or listed exposure sites on the Peninsula.