COVID-19 cases have jumped in Baw Baw in west Gippsland, with 62 cases since Friday.
- Baw Baw recorded 18 cases on Monday, 31 cases on Sunday, 13 on Saturday and 11 on Friday
- Hospitality businesses, gyms and retail remain open
- Demand is growing for testing, with a drive-through site established at Lardner Park
The area is not in lockdown, but some hospitality businesses are opting to return to takeaway in fear of rising cases.
The local government area recorded 18 new cases on Monday, following 31 cases on Sunday, 13 on Saturday and 11 on Friday. The area takes in the regional cities of Drouin and Warragul, and neighbours the Latrobe Valley.
Mayor Danny Goss says there is limited information flowing through to local businesses with exposure to coronavirus about what to do.
“It’s certainly out of control in Baw Baw shire. A lot of people are very, very concerned,” he said.
“People are saying to me, ‘I only go to the supermarket twice a week now, I’m not going every day as I normally do’, and ‘can you get the coffee? I don’t want to go.’ People are concerned about what’s happening.
“What’s happening is that there’s more businesses, cafes, nurseries … people will post [on social media] ‘my business has a staff member that has tested positive, what do I do?’ There’s no information flowing from DHHS.
“It seems a little bit out control with the government. There’s so many cases across the state; they are totally overworked.”
Last week the Gippsland Region Public Health Unit (GRPHU) handed over exposure site management to the Department of Health.
“While the GRPHU will identify the sites based on case interviews, the information is then reported to the Department of Health, who will then manage the site from there including liaising with the business owner/venue management,” a spokesperson for the unit said in a statement.
“If you are contacted by a business that has been identified as an exposure site, please refer them to the Department of Health.”
Victoria’s COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said recent cases have been linked to illegal gatherings.
“Eighteen cases in the Baw Baw Shire are associated with the Robin Hood hotel and a number of other gatherings we’re aware of, and again those cases continue to be linked,” he said.
Mr Weimar said the gatherings were spread over several venues, but fines were not being considered.
“Getting COVID is a pretty bad thing to get; that’s not where you want to be after an illegal gathering,” he said.
Cafe opens for takeaway only
French Pear Cafe owner Rebecca Dumergue says she has returned her Drouin business to takeaway-only transactions for this week.
Under current restrictions in Baw Baw, hospitality businesses can open for 10 patrons indoors, and 30 outside.
“There were just businesses starting to close around us. It made us feel like sitting ducks, if that makes sense,” she said.
“And for the safety of my staff, I wanted to reduce it as much as a I can and try and do takeaway for now. We’ve decided to do it for about a week and see how it goes.
“We still get lots of people here from metro, and we still need to check everybody. Doing this will hopefully keep my staff safe and everyone else around us.
“We can probably get about 10 or more a day that we are turning away [from metropolitan locked down areas]. It’s very hard on the staff; that staff have to deal with how people react.
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