Car parking in Warrnambool is now free in a bid to help struggling businesses in the wake of the corona virus crisis.
An urgent meeting was held on Monday night where councillors agreeing to waive car parking fees for both the parking meters, but also for those using the app.
Mayor Tony Herbert said the council just wanted to make it easier for businesses and shoppers.
"Free parking. As simple as that. You don't have to use the app. It's just free parking," he said.
Cr Herbert said the council would reassess its decision in mid-April just to see how it was working and to see if the council needed to extend the free parking for longer.
Motorists have been asked to do their best to adhere to the time limits.
"All we're asking is that if you are in Liebig Street, for example, and we all know that it's one hour, we just ask people, as much as they can, to adhere to one hour," Cr Herbert said
"If they're in a two hour zone, just adhere if they can, to two hours.
"And if that continues to work, that's one of the reasons it could possibly be extended.
"We understand that many of the shop owners and workers are under stress and if they need to park a little bit closer, by all means we want to be able to support them but if they can, continue to park that little bit further away."
Cr Herbert said it was "really tough times" for businesses and the community.
"We're not expecting crowds of people. We're not expecting that this is a measure where we're encouraging people to gather. We just want to make it easier," he said.
He said there were calls on Monday for 15-minute free parking from two councillors, but the council had gone further.
Former councillor Peter Hulin also called for free parking last week to help businesses and to stop the potential spread of the virus, particularly among the elderly who are more likely to use the parking meters rather than the app.
"I'm really happy we can offer this. I'm not sure whether it's going to be a huge benefit, but I think it's just going to make things easier," he said.
The council was also encouraging shoppers to "Get Around Warrnambool" and rather than getting everything they need from the supermarkets, they want people to consider buying from their local butcher or fruit and vegetable business.
Cr Herbert said the council was also still looking at a number of issues to help businesses and the community and rates was one topic that had been discussed.
He said the council had also included a prominent link on its website to help businesses navigate what assistance the federal and state governments have provided for businesses.
"I wouldn't call it a one-stop-shop, but it's giving businesses that bit of information and some assistance about how navigate and access some of these fairly substantial grants that have been announced by both governments," he said.
"If we can up our level of social distancing, respect that that is a measure that will control the curve of infections, if we can do that and even up it that bit further we will be so much better off and make this thing not last as long."
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