TWO south-west councils have asked visitors in the area to return home as cases of coronavirus continue to rise in the region.
Moyne Shire mayor Daniel Meade and Warrnambool City Council mayor Tony Herbert made the unprecedented call on Friday after it became clear a number of visitors were still in the area, staying in private accommodation.
It comes as the seventh case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the south-west on Friday.
The mayors' request aligns with national statements about a possible shortage of intensive care unit facilities and as sweeping restrictions on gatherings aim to ease strain on medical facilities and health workers.
Cr Meade said the region's hospitals simply didn't have the capacity to support additional people in the shire.
"We are aware visitors are remaining in the area, either in hotels or in private holiday rentals," he said.
"We strongly urge any visitors to return to their place of residence to ensure our health system can prioritise the residents of the south-west.
"There is also an onus on local accommodation providers to stop taking bookings to discourage visitors in the near future."
The councils closed their caravan parks earlier this week and Parks Victoria closed all designated campgrounds and accommodation.
Warrnambool City Council mayor Cr Tony Herbert said it made sense for all Australians to return home if they could.
"If you're at home you're closer to your support networks, your GP and your health service," Cr Herbert said.
"Every health service has been established to serve a particular catchment and we need to ensure that no health service is over-burdened unnecessarily.
"And while over the next few months we will all be observing social distancing and hand hygiene protocols there will come a time when we will be welcoming everyone back with open arms."
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