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Regions out of lockdown, but not out of the woods

We’ve finally been delivered the news every regional Victorian needed to hear – we’ll come out of lockdown at 11.59pm tonight.

With no active cases or exposure sites in regional Victoria, families, small business owners and communities have been pleading for common sense.

Today’s announcement means our kids are back in the classroom, that our pubs, coffee shops, beauty services and retail stores can reopen and that loved ones can again gather for the moments where we need connection the most – at weddings, funerals and religious ceremonies.

But it’s the lockdown regional Victoria didn’t need to have.

Lifting the regional lockdown is the right thing to do but it comes four days too late for many Victorians.

It’s four days too late for regional cafes, restaurants and pubs that had to cancel bookings and throw out tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of fresh food ahead of another snap lockdown.

It’s four days too late for the Victorians who couldn’t go to work because they are in casualised work.

It’s four days too late for tourism and entertainment businesses that were already struggling to survive but have lost another busy weekend of trading.

Wangaratta Mayor Dean Rees must be congratulated for standing up for his community – and every single regional Victorian – to tell us the truth when the Andrews Labor Government refused to.

It was Mr Rees’ revelations on Friday that the Premier was – at best – misinformed about the positive detection of COVID in wastewater at Wangaratta that means hundreds of thousands of Victorians will come out of lockdown.

Daniel Andrews should have lifted the regional lockdown as soon as the truth came out.

His Labor Government is guilty of hiding the truth just to protect their own jobs, at the expense of local jobs and livelihoods of regional Victorians.

Living under the constant threat of statewide lockdown is killing our communities in regional Victoria.

Victorians deserve a plan out of lockdown that uses rapid testing so we can have a proportionate, targeted response to outbreaks.

The Liberal Nationals will keep fighting for a common-sense plan with lockdowns as a last resort – not a first response. It’s what every Victorian deserves.

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