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Great divide: regional Victorians revel in freedoms as Melbourne is locked down

The vast majority of regional Victoria, including Geelong, has been spared the stage three restrictions that have been imposed on Melbourne to halt the spread of coronavirus.

That means those in regional Victoria – apart from Mitchell Shire – can enjoy many liberties unavailable to Melburnians.

Regional households can have up to five visitors in their home. Cafes and restaurants can serve up to 20 people in an enclosed space where they can only provide takeaway in Melbourne.

Groups of up to 10 people can drink or dine together at a single table and alcohol can be served without food when patrons are seated.

Children enjoy their freedom on foreshore in Geelong while across the bay Melburnians are under stage three restrictions.

Children enjoy their freedom on foreshore in Geelong while across the bay Melburnians are under stage three restrictions. Credit:Jason South

Mr Lee said his family didn’t encounter any check points on the drive over, but they have had to prove they are not from Melbourne to staff when checking in to their accommodation and eating out.

“Once you say you’re not from Melbourne a little weight comes off their chest.”

While there are a small number of confirmed cases across regional Victoria, Lee expected stage three restrictions may be imposed on communities outside Melbourne if infections continue to spread.

“It’s good at the moment but you know that sometime possibly soon it could get locked down again. We’re living in an unknown at the moment.”

For Naomi Brosnan, who lives in Rawson near Traralgon, there is a stark contrast between her current lifestyle and her adult son and daughter who live in Melbourne.

“I can have friends over. I can go to my parents-in-law and we can spend the afternoon together without any worries,” she said. “I went out to the pub the other day with friends for a birthday. We can pretty much do what we like.”

Yet Ms Brosnan described the atmosphere at the pub as “a bit flat” with most of the tables removed to maintain physical distancing.

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“It felt really bare and almost clinical in the way they came over and served us. But we were able to have a nice lunch and had a couple of drinks and a nice catch-up.”

Ms Brosnan says her freedom also comes with a dose of guilt. She fears for the safety of her children in Melbourne – one of whom lives near a public housing estate where there has been an outbreak.

“If I could get my older kids up here and have them safe I would do it in a heartbeat. It’s a black cloud over everything that they’re down there.

“Watching everything that’s unfolding in Melbourne makes me feel really anxious and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

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