An alliance of key regional Victorian business lobby groups has hit out at the state government's management of snap lockdowns and the impact on regional economies.
The Victorian Regional Chamber Alliance, which includes Be.Bendigo, wrote to the state government in February after the state's third lockdown, seeking a detailed plan of how the State would manage any further lockdowns.
"We suggested a more nuanced approach when shutting down areas and regions," Be.Bendigo chief executive Dennis Bice said.
"A 'one-size-fits-all' approach may have been necessary in the early days of this virus, but a total shut-down of the economy cannot be the only answer if we are to live with some levels of the virus in the community into the future.
"It must be acknowledged that other states have managed to identify and localise shutdowns and restrictions."
Mr Bice said the alliance welcomes the decision to slightly ease restrictions in regional Victoria, but added, "to imply regional Victoria is open, dismisses the reality for so many regional businesses".
He said most sectors continue to be impacted either by remaining locked down or are so constrained by density limits, they cannot afford to open, or if open will incur financial losses.
"In the absence of Melbourne visitors, we ask the government to support regional Victoria's capacity to support regional Victorian businesses. Regional businesses who rely on the Melbourne market are effectively still in a "soft lockdown" because their customers are in a hard lockdown," Mr Bice said.
"The continued impost of snap lockdowns has long lasting impacts on business from a revenue and wellbeing perspective.
"Regional businesses want the chance to trade their way out of this pandemic and have demonstrated overwhelmingly over many months, they can adhere to conditions that allow them to trade safely.
"We ask the Victorian government to return regional Victoria to pre-lockdown conditions and give our regional economy the chance it needs to survive."
Mr Bice said regional Victorians remained sympathetic to friends, family and colleagues in Melbourne and understand the pain that lockdown brings.
"We look forward to welcoming Melbournians back when the time is right. In the meantime, we want our regional community who have not been impacted by the pandemic, to have the opportunity to thrive, for the benefit of our economy and our wellbeing."
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