The Mayor of Hepburn Shire, Cr Licia Kokocinski, has asked people from Melbourne’s COVID-19 hotspots not to visit the Shire during the school holidays which start today.

Earlier this week Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy told the ABC, “School holidays are coming up so if you live in one of those areas, we don’t want you to fly to visit your family in Sydney or to go to country Victoria and potentially spread the virus.”

Cr Kokocinski has strongly supported that message. She has also emphasised the need for all visitors to behave responsibly and safely.

As Cr Kokocinski pointed out in a similar statement in May, a local coronavirus outbreak would be catastrophic, given the significant population of older people.

The last month has seen an enormous increase in the number of visitors to the Shire and, while this has been a boon for business and employment, many local people have been concerned about crowding in the streets and tourist spots.

Local businesses have for the most part been diligently following guidelines and some have reported being abused for doing so. But in public spaces keeping our community safe depends on visitors maintaining appropriate social distance. This has become very difficult with the increased number of people in shops, outside cafes and at markets.

“While we welcome visitors to the region within imposed restrictions, we want Hepburn Shire to remain COVID safe and for visitors to remember to social distance and use good hygiene practices. Safe and sustainable tourism is how we will balance our need to support local businesses with our community’s desire to remain COVID free,” said Cr Kokocinski.