Australian city of Ballarat enters one-week lockdown, restrictions in Shepparton eased

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

A residential street in the Ballarat suburb of Redan, pictured in March 2020.
Image: User:Peterdownunder.

As one city in Victoria, Australia exited its lockdown restrictions, another entered it, after the Victoria State Government yesterday announced that the City of Ballarat would begin a seven-day lockdown at 11:59pm yesterday, while the City of Greater Shepparton saw its lockdown restrictions eased at 11:59pm yesterday to match those of the rest of regional Victoria.

Restrictions in Ballarat match those currently in place in Melbourne, with the exception of a curfew. In a press release, the Premier of Victoria's office wrote that "for the community in Ballarat, there will be only five reasons to leave home: shopping for necessary goods and services, authorised work and study, caregiving or compassionate reasons, exercise, and getting vaccinated".

A five km limit has been put in place for those leaving their home, unless there are no shops within five km of their home, in which case people are permitted to travel to the nearest shops. Mask usage is also mandatory.

Meanwhile, restrictions in Greater Shepparton became the same as those of the rest of regional Victoria. Regional Victoria currently has no limit on how far residents can travel (with the exception that they cannot travel to Melbourne), there are no longer only five reasons to leave home, and businesses and venues are open in accordance with restrictions on capacity and density.

The news of a lockdown in Ballarat follows the detection of COVID-19 in the city's wastewater, as well as four new active cases of COVID-19 in the city. Jeroen Weimar, the COVID-19 response commander for the state of Victoria, pledged that "thousands of additional doses of vaccine" would be delivered to Ballarat. As of Sunday, 46.9% of people in Ballarat older than 15 years of age (over-15s) have been fully vaccinated from COVID-19, and 71.0% of over-15s in Ballarat have recieved at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In regards to these new restrictions to commence in Ballarat, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said "We know this will be disappointing for the Ballarat community, but we'd rather get on top of these cases open up again as quickly as possible, than let cases get out of control in the area. It’s so important that people in these LGAs continue to check for exposure sites near them, get tested if they have any symptoms at all and most important – get vaccinated if you haven't already."

Catherine King, MP for Ballarat.
Image: Hamer Radshaw.

When reached for comment, the office of Labor MP for Ballarat Catherine King directed Wikinews to an interview King gave with Sky News Australia yesterday. In that interview, King said that the news of lockdown was "disappointing", given "we've just had the five days where we've been out of lockdown and life starting to return a little bit", but added that "we know what we have to do", and pointed to Shepparton as a goal for Ballarat, stating "they've got on top of theirs, they've started to come out of lockdown and we've hopefully got just seven days if we can get on top of it".

King noted that the vaccination rates in Ballarat were a concern, explaining that "our biggest problem, to be honest, has just been we've got about 46% of the eligible population fully vaccinated. People are just desperate to get appointments and we've just not had enough supply and that's been consistent throughout, frankly, the last few months."

King also referenced children between 12 and 15 - who, as of Monday, can now recieve the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a GP or a vaccination clinic - being unable to get vaccinated in a timely manner, saying "people are desperate to get appointments and that's what I'm getting in my office, on my Facebook page and friends who have got, particularly now, children over 12 years old who are desperately trying to get appointments and can't get them for several weeks now. People absolutely want to get vaccinated, the issue continues to be our supply", claiming "people are saying it's not until late October, November for their kids now".


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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.