Shepparton, which is at the centre of a large outbreak, will not be included in the release from lockdown next week.
Seven of the state’s new infections were in regional Victoria on Wednesday, including five in Shepparton where active cases reached 114.
One of those regional cases was in Seymour but linked to a workplace exposure in North Melbourne and the other is a household primary close contact of an existing case in Geelong.
Frustrations have also resurfaced at Mornington Peninsula, where community leaders have again requested that it be reclassified as regional rather than as part of metropolitan Melbourne.
Tourism North East chief executive Bess Nolan-Cook said she had hoped regional Victoria would be released from lockdown on Wednesday.
“There’s an enormous amount of disappointment,” she said. “It just doesn’t feel like there is a natural end point to living like this.”
Ms Nolan-Cook said tourism businesses in her region had lost three-quarters of their trade this year, particularly with the snow season so severely disrupted by lockdowns.
“In those moments when people have been able to travel the demand has been really strong, but essentially, we’ve lost a second snow season.”
Glenelg Shire mayor Anita Rank said she had wanted more from Mr Andrews’ announcement.
“We were hoping that regional and rural Victoria would be treated differently,” she said.
Cr Rank said she understood challenges remained in Shepparton and there could be new exposure sites in other parts of the state.
But she said the mental toll of lockdown was weighing heavily on many residents of regional Victoria.
“I think the approach that we’re all in lockdown is extremely detrimental to business,” Cr Rank said.
“We’re now seeing more people becoming affected mentally because of the continual lockdowns.”
But Warrnambool mayor Vicki Jellie supported a slow easing of restrictions in regional Victoria.
“If we could do it gradually and not go into a big lockdown again, wouldn’t that be great?” she said.
Greater Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher said she also supported an end to lockdown in regional Victoria next week.
In Shepparton there are still 6300 primary close contacts isolating, but authorities expect to clear many of them this week as day-13 tests fall due.
Mr Andrews said thousands of people remained in isolation in Shepparton but too many had been out in the community while infectious.
He said Shepparton would join the rest of regional Victoria in reopening as soon as possible. He insisted the greatest risk to regional Victoria was from NSW where there were 1116 new infections on Wednesday.
Business Wodonga chief executive Graham Jenkin said the plan to shrink the NSW border bubble was worrying.
“So many communities depend on cities the size of Albury-Wodonga for their health and shopping,” he said.
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