Police have issued a reminder to Wimmera residents not to visit each other as emergency services continue to provide assistance with amended practices to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Victoria Police officers across the state are actively enforcing emergency powers in relation to stay at home directions, restricted activity directions and isolation directions as per the State of Emergency declaration.
Police officers from all regions have been asked to perform these duties when required.
Kaniva Senior Constable Adrian Hoggett told the Mail-Times it was important people followed the state directions to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the region.
"People are not to visit each other in their homes," he said.
The directions restrict people in Victoria from leaving their homes except for the following reasons:
- to shop for food and other necessary goods and services
- to access medical services or provide caregiving
- to attend work or education where you can't do those things remotely
- for exercise
- emergency purposes
Under stage three restrictions, Victorians must not visit the homes of family and friends for social catch-ups.
Chief Health Officer of Victoria Regarding said they would be making an exemption to the rules for people who did not live with their partner.
"We have no desire to penalise individuals who are staying with or meeting their partners if they don't usually reside together," he said.
Victoria Police has the power to fine individuals for breaking the rules on gatherings and distancing.
A Victoria Police Media spokeswoman said the service had issued updated protocols for persons in custody and was also developing a risk assessment protocol for arrest and interview.
She said the health and safety of the community, including every officer, was Victoria Police's number one priority during this challenging period.
"Increased cleaning measures in and around police stations and other facilities are being undertaken regularly, including on frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, handrails, and lift buttons," she said.
"Victoria Police also takes the supply of personal protection equipment very seriously, with officers able to order items such as face masks, hand sanitiser and other PPE depending on their needs, as per standard practice.
"All Victoria Police stations have received an adequate number of antibacterial wipes to clean PBT machines each time a breath test is conducted.
"We encourage all employees to practice good personal hygiene, including regularly washing their hands with soap or using hand sanitiser, cough etiquette and practising social distancing."
CFA minimise personnel response to certain incidents
Country Fire Authority District 17 operations officer Lindsay Barry said the authority had implemented different work arrangements to ensure the safety of its members as they continued to respond to emergencies.
"We are doing that with greater precaution, with new lines of procedures and policies around how we interact at emergencies," he said. "There's a greater level of concentration on hygiene, how we interact at incidents.
"As an example, say if we had an alarm present at an alarmed building in town, such as an aged care facility, the brigade would respond as per the usual system. However we are minimising the number of people who need to go and investigate that alarm. That in itself protects both parties.
"Then we make a plan, if there is a fire we investigate it, if it's a false alarm we have minimised the number of people who enter a premise and have contact with members of the public or residents in that building."
Mr Barry said where possible people were being asked to work remotely, with staff who answered phones district branches working from home.
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"All CFA services are still available from a mental health point of view as well," he said.
In terms of sanitising equipment Mr Barry said the authority had added additional precautions, especially for vehicles.
"When returning from an incident or driving one of our vehicles we've put together a clean down process of sanitising the cab of the vehicle after each drive to really minimise the exposure, not only to the public but specifically to our members," he said.
Mr Barry said he had been informing members of the Prime Minister's advice that people aged over 70, those with a chronic illness aged over 60, and Aboriginal people over the age of 50 should stay at home as much as practical.
"We do have people of a large demographic of older members and we are conveying that message out," he said.
SES suspends training and community engagement activities
A spokeswoman from the State Emergency Service Victoria said it would continue to operate as usual but had adapted its practices to protect the health of its members.
"All VICSES units are being asked to suspend or postpone non-essential face-to-face engagements for the time being, such as training and our community engagement activity," she said.
"We need to prioritise the health and wellbeing of our members so that they can respond to emergencies when required.
"Aside from that, VICSES will continue to respond as usual to requests that relate to road rescue, storm and flooding emergencies, search and rescue, and more."
The spokeswoman said the service was supporting all members to stay well informed and take steps to protect themselves and others through enhanced hygiene practices and social distancing.
"We hope that by playing our part, we can get back to normal as soon as possible," she said.
The spokeswoman said people could still contact their local unit during flood and storm emergencies the same way, by calling 132 500.
"We are also very grateful for ongoing state government support," she said.
"You can also support your local unit directly by contacting them by phone. More information is available here including links to how to support VICSES through 'Good to Give' https://www.ses.vic.gov.au/support/fundraising-and-donations."
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