Dear valued subscriber,
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 on the issue, including the VFF and South West Coast MP Roma Britnell, advocating 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. Should we be rewarded for doing such a good job? Shouldn't other hotspot areas be locked down?
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, 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.
Sport lovers suffered a major blow on Wednesday night when both the Warrnambool and District Football Netball League and Mininera league abandoned their senior competitions for the year because of coronavirus concerns. Before last weekend's announcement from Premier Dan Andrews that social gathering restrictions would not ease, there was hope the leagues could have found a way to play in 2020. But after that announcement, it was no surprise the final siren sounded on the season. It was ironic that the following day AFL Victoria issued return to play guidelines, including groups of 10 people dotted around ovals and netball courts. The timing was terrible not just here but across the state because by then most leagues had decided to abandon competitions.
This story from earlier in the week would be among every parent's worst nightmares.
There was some good news this week - our water bills from July 1 are expected to drop, instead of go up.
There were a couple of feel-good stories this week that stood out. This one about two friends who have swapped the same birthday card for 25 years. Their picture (above) from Mark Witte captured the essence of the story. And this one about an artist who found a creative way to get through isolation.
With senior local footy and netball competitions abandoned for the year, our sports reporters have been busy launching an AFL email newsletter that features opinion pieces and latest news. Our team has joined forces with sports reporters across Victoria, southern New South Wales and Tasmania to give you a different perspective on the national code. You can sign up here.
Here's a selection of other stories that made headlines this week.
Until next week,