As expected, last weekend was one of the busiest long weekends on record in Daylesford for the Queen’s birthday as the COVID-19 restrictions were eased and people took the opportunity to get out and about. But social distancing was a significant problem in Vincent Street and the Sunday Market.
Visitors packed the Main Street. There were traffic queues coming from Ballan and Malmsbury/Trentham . The Wombat Gardens and Lake Daylesford provided plenty of outdoor opportunities – helped by the weather.
The Council had environmental health officers and signs out around the town to encourage social distancing and safe behaviour in public spaces.
But council does not have powers to require social distancing. That is a job for the police. More signage, more encouragement from the police and more active reminders from traders are needed if social distancing is to be improved when Daylesford is busy again.
For residents it was a shock to have the usual hustle and bustle of the weekend after having the town to themselves for the last two months. As one put it, ‘its been like it was 20 years ago while the shut down was on. We had the place to ourselves’.
On the other hand, the increased activity was a welcome change for the traders and accommodation providers after a long period of little business. The local economy got a much needed boost. Businesses made back some of their loses and employment showed some signs of improving.
COVID-19 infections are low at the moment, but that may not last and ignoring social distancing in crowded streets and markets will get much riskier if infections go up. Last weekend was a welcome relief for business and employment, but it should also be a wake up call to take social distancing more seriously.