Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

COVID-19 cases have jumped in Baw Baw in western Gippsland, with 62 cases since Friday.

The area is not closed, but some hospitality companies choose to return to takeaway for fear of rising cases.

The local government registered 18 new cases on Monday after 31 cases on Sunday, 13 on Saturday and 11 on Friday. The area occupies the regional cities of Drouin and Warragul and neighbors to the Latrobe valley.

Mayor Danny Goss says there is limited information flowing to local businesses with exposure to coronavirus about what to do.

“It’s definitely out of control in Baw Baw shire. A lot of people are very, very worried,” he said.

“People say to me, ‘I only go to the supermarket twice a week now, I do not go every day as I normally do,’ and ‘can you have the coffee? I do not want to go.’ People are worried about what is happening.

“What’s happening is that there are more businesses, cafes, nurseries … people want to write [on social media] ‘my company has an employee who has tested positive, what do I do?’ No information comes from DHHS.

“It seems a little out of control of the government. There are so many cases across the state; they are totally overworked.”

Last week, the Gippsland Region Public Health Unit (GRPHU) handed over the site of exposure to the Ministry of Health.

“While GRPHU will identify the sites based on case interviews, the information will then be reported to the Ministry of Health, which will then administer the site from there, including contact with the business owner / venue management,” a spokesman for the unit said in a statement.

“If you are contacted by a company that has been identified as an exposure site, refer them to the Department of Health.”

Victoria’s COVID-19 response chief Jeroen Weimar said recent cases have been linked to illegal gatherings.

“Eighteen cases in Baw Baw Shire are connected to the Robin Hood Hotel and a number of other gatherings we are familiar with, and again these cases are still connected,” he said.

Weimar said the collections were spread across several venues, but fines were not considered.

“Getting COVID is a pretty bad thing to get; it’s not where you want to be after an illegal collection,” he said.

Cafe only opens for takeaway

French Pear Cafe owner Rebecca Dumergue says she has returned her Drouin business to transactions that can only be picked up this week.

Under the current restrictions in Baw Baw, hospitality businesses can open to 10 patrons indoors and 30 outside.

“There were just companies starting to close around us. It made us sit ducks if that makes sense,” she said.

“And for the sake of my staff’s safety, I would reduce it as much as possible, and try to make takeaway for now. We have decided to do that for about a week and see how it goes.

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“We’re still getting lots of people here from the subway and we still have to check everyone. Doing this will hopefully keep my staff safe and everyone else around us.

“We can probably get about 10 or more a day, which we turn away from [from metropolitan locked down areas]. It is very hard for the staff; that staff need to deal with how people respond.

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