Country people are at our wits end being dragged into the turmoil of Labor’s policy of statewide lockdowns to tackle outbreaks in Melbourne.

While there continues to be no active cases of COVID-19 outside of Melbourne, today’s announcement of eased restrictions for regional Victoria is the news families, businesses, communities and the Liberal Nationals have been calling for.

Protecting public health must be the priority, but after more than 12 months the Labor Government has no excuse not to have a way forward that keeps us safe while minimising the social, economic and community impacts of outbreaks on regions that are COVID-free.

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has estimated the seven-day lockdown will deliver an up to $150 million blow to the regional economy.

An estimated 500,000 Victorians who work casually have been out of work for the past week.

No work means no pay.

This adds to the devastating impact of 12 months in and out of lockdown – despite many regional communities never recording a single active case of COVID-19 – which followed a horror bushfire season in January 2020.

While the Labor Government is obsessed with slinging mud to lay blame at the feet of others, its own measly financial support package is failing to make a dent in the severe pressure that workers and businesses are under as a result of the fourth lockdown.

Victorians have been locked down more than any other state.

In the same time, New South Wales has been able to get isolated outbreaks under control without statewide lockdowns.

NSW’s good contact tracing, bolstered by adequate resourcing and a strong QR code process, has spared families and businesses in regions with no active cases of COVID-19 from the sweeping devastation of lockdown.

Victorians deserve no less.