An online petition calling for the Mornington Peninsula to be excluded from metropolitan Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown restrictions is gathering pace. More than 9200 people have signed the petition, with organisers aiming for 10,000 signatures.
The petition states: “The Mornington Peninsula, which has zero COVID-19 cases (as of September 12) and hasn’t had an active case for 14 days, has been forced into lockdown with the rest of Melbourne. Across the bay other regional areas such as Lorne, Torquay and Geelong have escaped restrictions and been allowed to help their local businesses and economy start to recover from the financial strain of the lockdown.”
The petition notes that the Peninsula wasn’t classified as part of metropolitan Melbourne when it came to infrastructure spending but had been “clumsily lumped” into this category as part of the COVID-19 restrictions.
“The Mornington Peninsula economy has been hit exceptionally hard as a result of the lockdown,” it says. “Common sense is desperately needed from the Victorian Government to reclassify the Mornington Peninsula as regional, allowing us locals to start to rebuild and support our local businesses and the economy.”
Residents have strongly backed the petition, with Lucy Burns writing: “Our (COVID) numbers are low. Lower than the Bellarine Peninsula.” John Gray added: “The Peninsula is not part of the Melbourne metro area. I don’t see trains running to Portsea.” Liz Cunniffe commented: “The numbers are low or non-existent and that’s beyond what could be hoped for realistically. The economy and people’s mental health is suffering beyond belief. The cost of the lockdown far outweighs the benefits. Enough is enough.”
Meanwhile, police said they would be out in force across the Peninsula as part of Operation Sentinel to “deter and detect” any breaches of the chief health officer’s directions. “We know people would normally like to travel out of Melbourne to popular destinations such as the Mornington Peninsula as the weather warms up and school holidays approach,” police wrote in an online post. “Police will have a highly visible presence in the Mornington Peninsula community, including at vehicle checkpoints on major arterial roads, mobile vehicle checkpoints and ongoing proactive patrols.”
Anyone pulled over at a vehicle checkpoint could expect to have their licence and work permit checked and their residential address confirmed, police said, adding officers would patrol popular locations such as beaches, parks and other areas to ensure that everyone was adhering to the current Stage 4 restrictions.
“This includes ensuring only Mornington Peninsula residents or others travelling with a permitted purpose are found to be in the area. Anyone who lives in the Mornington Peninsula area and is travelling for a permitted purpose should expect to see some delays while the vehicle checkpoints are in place. While these checkpoints may cause some inconvenience for local residents, it’s important to remember that they are an important component in stopping the spread of Coronavirus and keeping the community safe.”
In other news, police have urged tradies in the Frankston area to lock their vehicles and toolboxes. “There has been an increasing trend over the last month of thefts from motor vehicles, with the offenders targeting tools from unlocked trays and tool kits,” police said. If you have any information about the thefts, phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au