FACILITIES managed by Wellington Shire Council have been closed since Thursday, in line with the return of stage three restrictions across regional Victoria.
All libraries in the shire are closed, with the “click and deliver” service resuming on Friday.
In Sale, the Aqua Energy leisure centre, Gippsland Regional Sports Complex (including outdoor facilities), The Wedge performing arts
centre, Gippsland Art Gallery, and the Wellington Centre at the Port of Sale have been closed.
Council’s customer service centres in Sale and Yarram are closed for face-to-face operations.
Customer requests can be made on the council website, wellington.vic.gov.au, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 1300 366 244.
Gippsland Regional Livestock Exchange is only open for essential people to attend sales, such as agents, saleyard staff, transporters and preregistered buyers.
Caravan and RV parks operated by council are closed, as are playgrounds and public outdoor gym equipment.
Public toilets will remain open.
Skate parks will remain open until further advice is received from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.
People using these facilities are being urged to maintain appropriate physical distancing and hand hygiene.
While Wellington Shire, as of Thursday morning, did not have any confirmed active cases of COVID-19, mayor Alan Hall warned people against complacency.
“If the advice is that we need to take every precaution necessary to protect our community, that’s a position that I would gladly endorse,” he said.
“I visited a supermarket and to be interrupted by someone who said ‘thank you’, had seen the report in the Gippy Times last week before masks had become mandatory in Victoria.
“She said to me ‘I saw the report in the paper and I’ve been wearing a mask ever since’.
“I know the hackneyed expression ‘we’re all in this together’ – but quite simply we might be safe but we so need to stay safe down here and if by following every direction we get is the way we do it, so be it.
“Think about our obligations from one to another.
“This is about social responsibility and caring.
“You know one more patient in ICU is one more too many, and we do not need to see them in Wellington, so I would plead with everyone in our community, take this seriously because it may well be your mum, your dad, your partner, your child – someone you love who becomes infected.
“It would be the absolute saddest thing in my life to think that I was responsible for the demise of someone’s wellbeing.”
Since COVID-19 restrictions began in March, Wellington Shire Council has put in place measures to support the community.
These include outreach calls to older residents, the ‘Wellington Still Delivering’ online platform to promote local businesses operating during restrictions, the ‘Be Kind Wellington’ social media group, and a relief line (1300 137 218, Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm) for people to phone for assistance accessing services during isolation.
During the pandemic, council staff have been working with local medical, health and wellbeing service providers to ensure people can access what they need.
With the pandemic set to continue longer than other emergencies, council and its partners are planning relief and recovery activities at the same time as medical and health agencies are undertaking response activities.
Council last month established the Wellington Municipal COVID-19 Recovery Committee to understand the effects on the community economically and socially, and plan for recovery actions across the shire.
The committee, which includes business and health sector representatives, will prepare the Wellington COVID-19 Municipal Recovery Plan to direct recovery actions involving multiple agencies.
Council recently received funding from the state Department of Health and Human Services to operate the COVID-19 Community Activation and Social Isolation (CASI) program in the shire from July 1 to December 31.
The program offers practical, emotional or social support for people who are isolated during COVID-19.
CASI can be accessed by phoning the Victorian COVID Hotline (1800 675 398) or the Wellington COVID-19 Relief Information Line (1300 137 218).
Wellington Shire councillor Carolyn Crossley said work had already begun on recovering from the pandemic before the tighter restrictions were enforced.
“It is a bit ‘one step forward, and two steps back’,” she said.
“Some of those areas that we’re initially looking at to open up and promote business, we’ve had to put on hold, but certainly we’ll be planning both in that economic and social area to be ready to roll when we can actually get and activate and have visitors and have more activity.”