We are being hit daily with new COVID-19 information - new restrictions, new guidelines, new fines.
It can be confusing to keep track of it all - in particular how it affects the Grampians and Wimmera.
To help, we will be updating this file regularly with new information so you can find what you need in one place.
If we haven't covered something here, let us know at email@example.com - please put COVID-19: What you need to know in the subject line.
The Wimmera and Grampians are at stage 3 level restrictions from Wednesday August 5 at midnight.
This means you must stay home except for the following four reasons:
- For food and essential supplies
- For study or work
- For care and healthcare
- And for exercise or outdoor recreation
When outside your home, you must wear a face covering.
No visitors are allowed at your home, and you are only allowed to gather with one person from outside your household in public.
Businesses in regional Victoria will also return to Stage 3 restrictions. That means restaurants and cafes can only offer delivery and takeaway. Beauty and personal services will need to close. Entertainment and cultural venues will need to close. Community sport will need to stop.
Abattoirs are the only regional industry to fall under stage four lockdowns. Additional closures announced by Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday August 3 only apply to metropolitan areas.
Stage 4 in Melbourne:
From August 2, a curfew will be in place in metropolitan Melbourne. Curfews will be in operation from 8pm to 5am every evening, with people only allowed to leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons.
Victoria has recorded its slowest day of COVID-19 growth in almost four weeks, with 278 cases in the past 24 hours.
Due to outbreaks in regional Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews said three more testing sites would be opened up in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.
"Significant growth in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo are of concern and we are closely monitoring them to have fastest and most localised response," he said.
"It is very important that we keep case numbers low."
Sadly, a further eight Victorians have lost their lives to the virus: one woman in her 50s, two men in their 70s, two men and two women in their 80s and one man in his 90s.
Four of those deaths are linked to aged care outbreaks, taking the total death toll to 275.
Key facts and figures as of August 13
Active cases in Northern Grampians: 1
Active COVID-19 cases in Horsham: 3
Active COVID-19 cases in Ararat, Hindmarsh, Yarriambiack and West Wimmera Shires: 2 (West Wimmera)
Social distancing: Distance is a prime method to avoid getting COVID-19. All people are advised to keep a social distance of 1.5 metres in public. If you are going to cough or sneeze, do it into your elbow.
Hand cleaning: Frequently wash your hands in warm, soapy water or use a sanitiser with more than 60 per cent alcohol.
Testing is available to people who have fever, chills or sweats, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, and loss of sense of smell or taste.
The test, which is free, takes around a minute and involves a swab from the back of your throat and nose.
Bring at least one form of identification - for example, your Medicare card, driver's licence or student ID - to the testing site.
If you have symptoms you must return home immediately after being tested and remain in self-isolation until you receive your test result.
A worker support payment is available for Victorians who have been instructed to self-isolate or quarantine at home because they are either diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) or are a close contact of a confirmed case.
For more information:https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/getting-tested-coronavirus-covid-19
Where can I get tested?
Below are some of the testing clinics that have been set up in the Wimmera, Grampians and surrounds. Testing clinics may ask you to call to book an appointment. Note, clinic hours may change and new pop-up clinics may open.
Source: Department of Health and Human Services
From midnight on Sunday August 2, all Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave the house - no matter where they live.
On Thursday July 30, Premier Daniel Andrews said "this was an appropriate next step".
Want to know more: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/face-masks-covid-19
"I understand this will a big step for some. But by covering your face, you're protecting your community, and protecting those extra freedoms your community enjoys," he said.
"By covering your face, you're keeping local businesses open, and keeping local people in work.
"We have low numbers in Victoria, jealously low. We want to protect that."
All masks: Should fit snuggly and cover your nose and mouth.
Surgical masks: Are available from a range of retailers, are single use and should be disposed of in a rubbish bin.
Cloth masks: Must be washed after each wear before being re-used. They should have at least three layers (see graph below). They should not have holes or a valve - which could allow you to breath out the virus. If they have a replaceable filter, that should be change with each wear. Cloth masks should be washed at the temperature appropriate for the fabric after each use and be fully dry before they are worn again. So it's best to have a few. Check the mask regularly as it is will wear and in time need replacing.
Scarves, socks: People have been given leeway due to the shortage of reusable masks and mask in general at the moment to cover faces with any covering, but it has been advised that they do not provide the same level of cover as a mask.
Mask safety: If you take a mask off while you are out you can't put it back on again - it will either need to be binned or, if reusable, washed later. Carry a plastic bag to put them in if you take them off - don't just put them in your back pocket - and if cloth wash them when you get home. Have multiple masks with you if you're going to remove them during the day.
Putting on/removing a mask: Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser with more than 60 per cent alcohol before you put the mask on and before you remove it. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and store the used face masks in plastic bag until you can wash them - or throw them straight into the wash if you are at home.
Make your own:
For more information: How to make a cloth mask from DHHS
RULES AND FINES:
Can I have visitors to my house?: You cannot have visitors or go to another person's house unless you are giving/receiving care or visiting a person you are in an intimate relationship with.
Can I still dine in at a cafe or restaurant?: Cafes, restaurants and other hospitality businesses will only be open for takeaway and delivery.
Can I attend a wedding or funeral?: Weddings will be able to include five people (couple, two witnesses and the celebrant). There is a 10 person limit for funerals (not including those conducting the service).
Can I meet-up with people outside?: You are only allowed to gather with one person from outside your household in public.
What if I don't follow the rules?
Victoria Police can issues on the spot fines up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses who refuse or fail to comply with the emergency directions.
Those fines can go as high as $20,000 for individuals and $100,000 for businesses, should they go through the court system.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Tuesday new penalties for those who breach isolation rules.
Mr Andrews said Victorians who failed to self-isolate could receive an on-the-spot fine of $4,957 and those who repeatedly breached the rules faced court proceedings andfines of up to $20,000.
"If you are supposed to be at home and you are not then you face the prospect of a fine of up to $5,000," Mr Andrews said.
Advice from Dr Isabelle Igros, a General Practitioner at Horsham's Tristar Medical Group clinic.
After you get tested: Stay at home until your results come out. If you test negative, stay at home until your symptoms have subsided. A common bug may take a couple of days to a week to resolve.
Ring your doctor if you are worried: This is common and understandable, and your doctor will be able to answer specific questions.
If you need a face-to-face appointment: You should bring your own mask, and organise the appointment with the practice reception. At Tristar, people can sit in their car until it is their turn, then they will be let into the isolation room or keep waiting in the car until the GP is ready for them. If patients aren't sure what they are experiencing, or if it is not improving, they are offered a face-to-face appointment, provided they are masked and not in the waiting room for a long time.
If you test positive: Your GP will be notified, and the DHHS will begin contact tracing. After that, the level of your GP will still offer you the same level of support. Contact them and talk as the first step.
The federal government has made many more types of telehealth appointments able to be bulk billed during the pandemic, to encourage more people to access medical help while staying at home.
Surgery will be postponed in regional Victoria, except for category one patients and the most urgent category two patients. Similar restrictions are also in place at metropolitan Melbourne hospitals.
"We can't have a situation where we are making the sickest patients wait longer because we are treating wholly worthy and important conditions, but not necessarily time-critical conditions," Mr Andrews said.
"We can't put those ahead of people who need that urgent care.
"The sickest patients must get treated quickest. That is always a principle that our public and indeed private hospitals work under.
"This is a regrettable decision but it is very important one in order to preserve sufficient capacity in our entire health system. City and country, public and private ... we need to mirror the restrictions that applied in Melbourne for a few weeks now in regional Victoria as well."
Travel within regional Victoria is allowed for work or study, medical care, caregiving and shopping for food or supplies. Exercise is not a valid reason to travel.
Holiday accommodation and camping is closed except for resident, emergency accommodation and work purposes.
As of Wednesday July 29, the South Australian government is tightening its restrictions on the state's border with Victoria, with a caveat on cross-border community members.
From Wednesday, a Victorian resident will only be eligible for Cross Border Community status if they reside within 40km of the South Australian border.
Furthermore, these residents may only move between Victoria and South Australia for employment or education; to provide or receive care and support; or to obtain food, fuel, supplies or medical care.
These residents must not travel more than 40km into South Australia.
Residents must also produce evidence they have had a COVID-19 test to an authorised officer before they cross, or evidence they have had one in the past week.
For more information, call the SA COVID-19 information line on 1800 253 787 from 9am-5pm or visit www.sahealth.sa.gov.au or www.sa.gov.au/covid-19.
Exercise is still a permitted reason to leave your house. You can exercise with members of your household or one other person.
Swimming pools, playgrounds and gyms will be shut. Sports like golf, tennis and boating can continue.
People who test positive to coronavirus are not allowed to leave their house for exercise.
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