Residents in three Victorian regions spend first day of what they hope is their last lockdown

Three Victorian regions have spent their first day back in lockdown after enjoying a brief reprieve from some coronavirus restrictions.

Residents of the City of Greater Geelong, the Surf Coast and Mitchell Shire entered a seven day lockdown from midnight on Sunday because of rising Covid-19 case numbers in their areas.

Among them is Kilmore retailer Raylene Murphy, who has had to close the doors to her shop Booteek Shoes for what she hopes is the final time.

“It was probably inevitable it was going to happen … I think a lot of the locals were expecting it,” she told NCA NewsWire.

“But even though you're expecting it, it still doesn’t make it any easier.”

Twenty-three active cases have now been identified in Mitchell Shire, which borders Melbourne’s northern fringe, including one new infection recorded on Monday.

Residents in three Victorian regions spend first day of what they hope is their last lockdown

Camera IconKilmore retailer Raylene Murphy says small businesses are struggling to survive. NCA NewsWire/David Geraghty Credit: News Corp Australia

Geelong is home to 21 active cases and there are two active cases in the Surf Coast Shire, according to data from the Victorian government.

Mrs Murphy said even retailers who could access government financial support were struggling with the rolling lockdowns.

“I did get some subsidy – that has been fantastic, I think. As I’m a sole trader it is a little bit more difficult sometimes,” she said.

“Once the doors are closed there isn’t any stock moving. It’s made it very hard in my sort of industry.

“I’m looking at next winter’s ranges and I’ve still got this winter’s because of the lockdowns.”

Victorian authorities announced the new lockdowns on Sunday as they unveiled their highly anticipated plan to begin easing Covid-19 restrictions when the state has fully vaccinated 70 per cent of the eligible population.

Retail in regional Victoria will be allowed to reopen at the 70 per cent double dose threshold, with density limits in place.

Residents in three Victorian regions spend first day of what they hope is their last lockdown

Camera IconLocals walk along the deserted main street of Kilmore in the Mitchell Shire. NCA NewsWire/ David Geraghty Credit: News Corp Australia

But most retailers in metropolitan Melbourne will have to stay closed until Victoria hits 80 per cent of people aged 16 and older fully vaccinated, which is expected in early November.

The Victorian government’s plan has attracted criticism from business lobby groups, who have questioned why indoor retail will not be allowed to reopen at a 70 per cent double dose target as it will in NSW.

The governments of both states have based their road maps on modelling by the independent Burnet Institute.

The Australian Retailers Association said the likely seven week wait until non-essential stores could reopen in Melbourne would deliver at least another $6bn blow to the industry.

Residents in three Victorian regions spend first day of what they hope is their last lockdown

Camera IconRaylene Murphy has closed her shoe store in Kilmore in the Mitchell Shire. NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty Credit: News Corp Australia

Mrs Murphy hopes Mitchell Shire’s lockdown will only last the week and says she doesn’t know how other retailers will survive until November.

“November does seem a long time away,” she said.

“I don’t know how those other businesses will cope with that. Even though the government is doing what it can to financially support some, it’s not the same.”

Earlier this week, Ballarat entered a lockdown expected to last until 11.59pm on Wednesday.

Victoria on Monday recorded 567 new Covid-19 cases and one death.

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