Virus shuts down region


By Jessica Micallef

Schools have closed and all pubs, clubs, casinos, cinemas, gyms and places of worship have been shut as the state battles the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state government announced that essential services would continue to operate, including banks, supermarkets, chemists and service stations. The prime minister on Sunday asked all Australians to cancel non-essential travel. Many public facilities and services in the Macedon Ranges and Sunbury have closed and events have been cancelled or postponed. The shutdown comes as Macedon Ranges recorded two cases of COVID-19.

Last week, Macedon Ranges council made the decision to close all council-run pools, gyms and leisure centres, libraries in Kyneton, Gisborne and Woodend, council service desks in Kyneton, Gisborne, Woodend and Romsey and the Kyneton Museum, for at least one month.

All arts and culture events at the Kyneton Town Hall have been cancelled or postponed. Visitor information centres did not open on March 14 and 15 and will remain closed until further notice.

The council said its kindergartens and maternal and child health centres would remain open until it is notified by health authorities and the state government to close.

Residents who have memberships, programs or tickets for council facilities or centres will be contacted directly regarding future arrangements.

The council’s chief executive officer Margot Stork said the council was taking a proactive approach in order to protect the health and wellbeing of the community.

Meanwhile, Riddells Creek Foodworks has been forced to limit the store to local shoppers only, with reports of “busloads” of city shoppers making their way to regional supermarkets to panic buy.

Store manager Joanna Bodsworth said security guards have been placed outside the store to check shoppers’ identification before entering the store. “We are reducing entry to the store to locals only that live in a radius of about 12 kilometres of Riddells Creek,” she said.

Residents from Riddells Creek, Clarkefield, Monegeetta, Bolinda, Romsey, Lancefield, Gisborne, New Gisborne, Cherokee and Sunbury from Riddell Road up to and including Settlement Road will only be allowed to shop at the Riddells Creek Foodworks on Station Street.

Williamson’s Foodworks in Gisborne has reduced its store hours to 9am-8pm, with the first hour of trade reserved for pensioners.

Closures were also put in place across Hume last week. The council closed its three senior centres, including the Sunbury facility on O’Shanassy Street. Hume council has provided a detailed list of cancelled events on its website