A new process to allow Hepburn Shire property owners who live in metropolitan Melbourne to be able to visit their properties to undertake fire preparedness work will start this week.

CEO Evan King said the online process will allow important property and site clearing to be undertaken while keeping the community COVID-safe.

“I don’t want anyone thinking this is some kind of leave pass for Melbourne-based ratepayers to come up and have a holiday in the Shire,” Mr King said.

“These property owners can apply via our website to visit their properties, and if approved, can undertake essential work to help prepare the Shire for the summer bushfire season before returning to their homes in Melbourne.”

Mr King said Council will collect information about who is coming to their properties, when and for how long, for potential tracing purposes.

“The State Government’s rules are simple – anyone coming up from Melbourne has to abide by the rules as if they were still in Melbourne, which means no going out for dinner, no having people over for a drink,” said Mr King.

Mr King said Council understands some local people will be anxious about Melburnians returning to the Shire.

“I get that some people may be uncomfortable about this however the State Government has made this call based on their medical advice that if carefully managed, this process will work.

The Hepburn Shire remains COVID-free through the hard work and vigilance of the entire community.

“We want our Shire to remain COVID-free and trust our Melbourne-based ratepayers want the same thing. To that end, we welcome them back to our Shire to play their part in getting ready for summer and hope to see them back visiting our towns and attractions in a more substantial way soon enough,” Mr King said.

The new process for applying to visit the Shire to undertake summer season preparedness works is at https://www.hepburn.vic.gov.au/travel-exemption/

For more information, see www.hepburn.vic.gov.au

For help with how to prepare your property for bushfire, https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/how-to-prepare-your-property