Indi MP Helen Haines has thrown her support behind regional areas being left out of future Victorian COVID-19 shutdowns when city infections explode.
The state's fourth lockdown and the snap February shutdown impacted the entire state and Dr Haines said the Victorian government had to come up with a better way to manage future circuit-breaker shutdowns of an entire state when areas such as the North-East remained COVID-free and had no exposure sites.
"We need to see different restrictions that relate to the level of risk, not broad brush strokes which fail to understand the low risk outside the capital." she said.
"Last year showed how regional Victoria had different restrictions that balanced the level of risk.
"This latest outbreak is serious, but it's confined to Melbourne with no cases in regional Victoria and none arising from regional exposure sites."
Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton confirmed on Monday that the reintroduction of the "ring of steel" separating metropolitan and regional areas was under consideration with a spike of cases in Melbourne in the last 24 hours and growing fears that the lockdown will extend beyond Thursday.
Wangaratta's No.49 Espresso Bar owner Ben Nyman said the latest lockdown was already hurting.
"With one case in Bendigo all of regional Victoria gets stuck with it," he said.
"There has been nothing in Wang for the last year.
"We only opened last July and struggled through and thought we were in the clear and had the business running well, but we're back in lockdown again.
"We can close for a week, but we can't close for a month without some sort of business bonus to keep people afloat."
Dr Haines joined the growing pressure from the Victorian Labor government in demanding more financial support from the federal government for businesses forced to close because of a lockdown.
In announcing a $250 million business support package on Sunday, Victoria's Acting Premier James Merlino and treasurer Tim Pallas slammed the federal government for not chipping in also.
Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack said in Albury on Monday the federal government had not abandoned Victorians.
"We've already provided $40 billion of support for the Victorian state government and moreover the Victorian people $40 billion of support," he said.
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But Dr Haines said the federal government had to step up again.
"The wage support program Jobkeeper was the federal government's greatest contribution to the Australian economy during 2020," she said.
"Just because the JobKeeper program has wound up, it doesn't mean the need isn't there when the same situation arises.
"Circuit-breaker lockdowns will continue to happen and the federal government urgently needs a solution to support people in short and sharp crisis situations."
Asked by The Border Mail why Victoria was so savage in its weekend criticism, Mr McCormack said: "You will have to ask them that.
"There is always going to be politics brought into things, but we are rising above that.
"We're making sure Australians know the federal government has their back.
"If you look at the NSW model, that has been the gold standard, that has been the exemplar.
"What Gladys Berejiklian has been able to do as Premier of NSW and what the health authorities have been able to do in NSW has set the standard by which we've kept people in this state safe.
"As a small business operator myself I know how hard it is when you have to shut your doors for a day, let alone a week, and this is the fourth lockdown in Victoria."
Member for Benambra Bill Tilley said Labor continued to mismanage the COVID crisis.
"Other states have gone into circuit breaker lockdowns without putting their hand out and whining about it," he said.
"Every time they fail to manage their own circumstances, they go crying poor.
"They've been here before, they should have been ready, programs ready to roll, support packages budgeted.
The Victorian Labor government need to own this, stop the class and political warfare and look to fix this.
"A good start would be freeing up regional Victoria."
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