To ease or not to ease? The debate about lifting COVID-19 restrictions further at local level or ramping them up to lockdown hotspots, has raged across dinner tables, loungerooms, social media and work places this week.
Moyne Shire mayor Daniel Meade took the unusual step of adding an urgent piece of business at this week's council meeting. He sought backing to urge Premier Dan Andrews ease restrictions previously planned to be lifted this week before being tightened because of a new spike in virus cases.
Cr Meade argued businesses were hurting and regional areas should be treated differently than metropolitan areas. His motion was successful 6-1. Businesses are clearly hurting, especially in the tourism and hospitality areas. Some will continue to struggle for weeks, perhaps months, depending on how long restrictions remain.
But Cr Jordan Lockett said easing rural restrictions was a "possible disaster".
"Whose lives are at stake? The elderly, the vulnerable people with comorbidity, Indigenous populations, there is a plethora of reasons not to do it," Cr Lockett said.
Plenty of others have weighed in publicly on the issue, including the VFF and South West Coast MP Roma Britnell, who has advocated restrictions be eased. Moyne Health Services chief Jackie Kelly backed Cr Meade's call, saying it was important for mental health and social isolation reasons that restrictions be eased in regional areas.
There is no doubt south-west residents are frustrated with the restrictions, especially with no new confirmed coronavirus cases in the region for 13 weeks.
But the over-riding factor in the emotive debate has to be health. Coronavirus is easily spread and there is no vaccine yet. Coronavirus can be fatal. This is not scare-mongering, the statistics, 20 deaths and more than 1900 cases in Victoria speak for themselves.
We are fortunate there haven't been more cases in the south-west. But easing restrictions could change that. Think Melbourne's western suburbs where thousands are being tested daily after a spike in cases there. As much as some don't like it, we have to remain cautious because lives depend on it.