Concerns over the growing COVID-19 hotspots in Melbourne have led two Bendigo businessmen to call for non-essential travel to regional areas to be restricted.
Beck Legal managing director Daniel Cole and Poyser Motor Group director Adam Poyser said caution is needed as Victoria records more COVID-19 cases.
Mr Poyser said the state and federal governments have done a magnificent job in containing the pandemic so far but swift action was needed to restrict a potential second wave of cases.
"The way this virus spreads is very quick," he said. My preference would be to see non-essential travel in and out of greater Melbourne stopped until (the state government) have got a good handle on it."
City of Greater Bendigo strategy and growth director Bernie O'Sullivan said council would encourage the state government to consider different restrictions for the regions
We're keen for the state government to continually assess the ability for regions to progressively relax restrictions where they are able to do so.Bernie O'Sullivan
"We're acutely aware the local economy really relies on strong visitation from Melbourne and across the state," he said. "From (council's) perspective, we would encourage the state government to assess whether restrictions (in the) regions could be reviewed and relaxed but we know to be done, it has to be in safe way."
Mr Cole said tighter restrictions in Melbourne's hotspots could let regional areas return to normal.
"If (the government) created some sensible restrictions around those hotspots, other areas could open. My frustration is the government is labeling regional Victoria (the same) as metropolitan areas."
Mr O'Sullivan said there needed to be a balance of keeps the community safe and well but encouraging visitors where safe to do so.
"We've seen and continue to see low rates of coronavirus across the region," he said.
"We're keen for the state government to continually assess the ability for regions to progressively relax restrictions where they are able to do so. We know we have taken a blow.
"There is a great opportunity where infection rates are low across regional Victoria to visit unique places like Bendigo. Our tourism, hospitality and accommodation sectors were smashed by coronavirus (shutdowns) and we're looking for every opportunity to support them and get them back on their feet. Part of that is enabling visitors in the region but to also do it in a safe way.
"We know many places Melbourne outside of hotspot areas, after three months of staying home, are keen to look at opportunities to visit regional areas and we welcome that but ask to do it in a sensible and safe manner."
Mr Poyser said any effort to introduce restriction to certain parts of Melbourne or Victoria should be done quickly.
"The way this virus spreads is very quick," he said. "That's why something needs to be done immediately. A lot of metropolitan people come to the country to visit family and take holidays. That's the great risk. Melbourne people see the country as a safer place to be.
"I fear if we don't take some action to stop Melbourne travel, we might all pay much a heavier price in longer run. Not everyone going to agree with me and I'm respectful to everyone's opinions."
Mr Cole said the lower population density and fewer cases in regional areas helped to controlling the virus effectively.
"The population is not as dense here, we managed to contain the pandemic and are complying with same level of restrictions," he said. "The reality is maybe we don't need that level of restrictions (in regional areas).
"If our government could contain those areas, it would be a great opportunity for people in the community to go about their lives like normal but with a sense of caution."
Mr Cole said there was potential for regional areas for become local tourists in their own state.
"There's parts of New South Wales and Victoria that could come to Bendigo. It would be terrific for that to happen with school holidays coming up," he said. "It could be done on a sensible basis if no one was feeling symptoms or has been in contact anyone from overseas.
"We have seen the pain of the local hospitality industry and would love to see it back on its feet. We should encourage everyone to support local business. No industry is immune from the virus and it would be great to see the local economy get back to some normality."