Victoria’s regions deserve more freedom

Victoria’s regions deserve more freedom

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The frustration is understandable. For most of regional Victoria, a positive case of COVID-19 has not been detected for at least two weeks. And yet everyone outside of metropolitan Melbourne is still living under strict social distancing rules. For those regional areas with a clean bill of COVID-19 health, life would be quite different were they in any other state.

The contrast is most stark in border towns like Albury-Wodonga. Both regional cities are free of reported virus cases, yet while north of the border, in Albury, life goes on in a relatively normal way, Wodonga is in strict lockdown.

The town of Marysville, where almost all businesses are closed.Credit:Eddie Jim

There is some relief coming. From this Sunday at 11.59pm, regional areas will return to having, among other things, full access to childcare, schools will begin a staged return of students and pools will be opened. But still set in stone will be the rule to stay at home unless you are carrying out permitted tasks.

For those living in the many COVID-free regions, the continuing strict lockdown must be a tough pill to swallow. It is not surprising that some within those communities are calling for regional bubbles in order to allow their areas to open up quicker. They have a point. If following the data is the key to opening up, surely evidence that the virus is not in large swaths of the state provides a rationale for letting them open up faster.