Council's Easter message: Stay home to stay well

Published on 08 April 2020

Easter 2020 message

Council and medical professionals have a different Easter message this year: Stay Home to Stay Well

Surf Coast Shire Council Mayor, Cr Rose Hodge, and medical professionals from across the Surf Coast Shire region are pleading for people to stay in their usual postcodes this holiday weekend.

“At this time of the year, we usually love to have visitors to our region with events such as the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach one of the main attractions,” says Mayor Hodge. “However, this year, we are urging anyone considering leaving their usual home to avoid heading down the coast – both to save vital health resources and for their own safety.”

The advice is backed by medical professionals, including Sandy Chamberlin, CEO of Great Ocean Road Health, who reminds that suspected COVID-19 cases take up time and resources, due to strict infection control protocols and so can immediately diminish the support available to other patients.

“Outcomes will be better if people get sick closer to their usual medical services, because small rural health services aren’t resourced to deal with more severe illnesses,” says Ms Chamberlin. “For example, there is no intensive care unit or emergency department in the Surf Coast shire. We provide quality aged care, community care and urgent care services, but don’t have the staff or equipment Metropolitan Hospitals have.”

She says the message is simple: “Don’t try to get further away from the virus; stay closer to suitable healthcare.”

Other healthcare organisations across the region are also promoting this messaging as Easter gets nearer, including Barwon Health, Primary Health Network (Western region) and Hesse Rural Health.

Torquay-based GP and Western Victoria PHN clinical spokesperson, Dr Anne Stephenson says:  

“Stay close to home and do not travel unnecessarily. Just like in the larger towns and cities, medical practices in smaller communities are facing increasing pressure from their communities around coronavirus.  This is on top of the existing regular patients who need to see their GP on an ongoing basis. I urge people to stay home, and not place GP services in small communities under added pressure.”

Council is reinforcing the ‘stay at home’ message to both permanent and part-time residents of the region and asking that non-permanent residents avoid travel between residences and do not come to their holiday homes in the coming weeks.

Alongside the strain on medical resources, there’s also reduced tourism services – beaches no longer have lifesaving patrols and many are closed to the public. Supermarkets are also already overwhelmed with demand.

“The Prime Minister and Premier have both been very clear with their messaging about not travelling at Easter and it’s time for Victorians to do the right thing and stop looking for loopholes of how not to stay at home,” says Mayor Hodge. “This is not your usual Easter. The sooner we limit the spread, the sooner life can return to normal and we can start to plan holidays again - when we will welcome everyone back with open arms.”

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