Welcome back to the Bellarine

October 28, 2021 BY

Queenscliffe mayor Ross Ebbels is keen to welcome Melbourne visitors and non-resident homeowners back to the Bellarine from 6pm tomorrow when COVID restrictions ease. Photo: MICHAEL CHAMBERS

BUSINESSES, tourism operators and residents across the Bellarine are already celebrating, with tomorrow’s 6pm certainty that doors will open, Melburnians will be back, and friends and family can reunite.

The Bellarine has traditionally anticipated a busy Melbourne Cup long weekend, kicking off the summer season for hospitality and tourism-based businesses that rely heavily on Melbourne visitors.

And after more than 18 months of pandemic uncertainty, the state government’s announcement that from 6pm tomorrow, Melbourne and regional Victoria would be one again, masks outdoors would be optional, and most restrictions were likely to end within a month, has provided great relief.

Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine executive director Brett Ince said Melbourne Cup weekend was usually a bumper weekend and as soon as that announcement was made on the weekend, the region’s tourism and hospitality operators started to see lots of bookings.

“And not just bookings for accommodation but hospitality too, which is great to see; that understanding that you do need to book and you do need to be kind to our hospitality workers,” Mr Ince said.

“Businesses are really excited to be able to open and have Melburnians back this weekend.”

Mr Ince said rapidly rising vaccination rates and the reassurance that the further easing of restrictions was only a month away was also “one of those real reliefs”.

“It does mean a lot of those business that were the first to close and the last to reopen – particularly events and larger weddings – are able to plan for summer.”

Borough of Queenscliffe mayor Ross Ebbels agreed that after months of in and out of lockdown, businesses and community had “that little bit more surety” around tomorrow’s change and again with November 24, when a majority of restrictions would lift.

“Particularly all down the coast, it’s good to have regional Victoria out and about but Melbourne is something like 80 per cent of our tourism,” Cr Ebbels said.

“A lot of our businesses need Melbourne to survive and some businesses rely on international visitors.

“We are also looking forward to seeing our residents back,” he said, explaining that just over half of the borough’s community were non-permanent residents.

“And I want to thank you for doing the right thing.”

From 6pm tomorrow, Melbourne and regional Victoria will have the same restrictions, masks outdoors will no longer be mandatory and most indoor venues open with a one-person-per-four-square-metre capacity, if all staff and patrons are fully vaccinated.

Most outdoor settings will remain at one person per two square metres, with a 500-person limit, where staff and patrons are fully vaccinated.

The next milestone in the Roadmap will be when Victoria hits the 90 per cent double-dose vaccination target for Victorians 12 years and over, predicted to be as early as November 24, when caps or density quotients will be removed for all settings, and masks will only be mandatory indoors in some high-risk settings.


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