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Grampians businesses close over COVID fears as virus reaches far south-west

At least half a dozen businesses have shut their doors in the Grampians town of Halls Gap amid fears of a potential COVID outbreak.

Businesses owners say they were contacted by a positive case who visited the popular tourist spot on Friday and over the weekend.

One business owner took to Facebook to say the person “was travelling lawfully from a part of regional Victoria with no known exposures, checked in everywhere and wore a mask properly”.

The Department of Health and Human Services is yet to list any exposure sites in Halls Gap and several of the businesses that closed said they had not been contacted by officials.

Flame Brothers Restaurant & Bar, Grampians Helicopters, Paper Scissors Rock Brew Co., Raccolto Pizzeria and the Halls Gap Post Office are among the businesses that have closed.

There is one known COVID-19 case in Northern Grampians Shire, but this is believed to be unrelated to the possible Halls Gap exposures.

Outbreak reaches far south-west

Health authorities believe three people from the same household in Portland, in the state’s south-west, contracted COVID-19 in Melbourne.

The trio tested positive shortly after becoming symptomatic and are understood to have been in Melbourne with a valid reason.

The cases are the first in Portland this year.

Portland District Health officials hope a COVID-19 outbreak in the region has been contained.(Supplied)

Barwon Health medical lead Will Naughton said no significant local exposure sites or primary close contacts had been identified so far.

“The benefit for this group is that they do a great job of wearing masks,” he said.

Dr Naughton said it was also imperative that unvaccinated residents were aware of the potential for risk in their community.

“At the moment we’re hopeful that it’s contained,” he said.

“Our intention is to … use this opportunity to recommend those who haven’t been vaccinated to come forward to be vaccinated.”

A sign on the gate of a primary school that is shut after a COVID exposure.
The school was notified of the exposure on Sunday night.(ABC Ballarat: Rosanne Moloney)

School still shut

Ballarat’s Alfredton Primary School remains closed for a third consecutive day after it reported a visit from a positive case late last week.

A new tier 1 exposure site was added in Ballarat yesterday, with the City Oval Hotel of concern between 7.25pm and 8.25pm on October 3.

Ballarat had four new cases according to yesterday’s data, following on from a “donut day” the day before.

There are still 60 active cases in Ballarat.

People in PPE attend drivers at a COVID testing clinic.
Hundreds of people came forward for testing after 17 exposure sites were announced in Warrnambool a fortnight ago.(ABC South West Victoria: Emily Bissland)

Moorabool Shire has had nine new cases since coming out of lockdown on Friday night and there are 51 active cases across the shire.

There are 30 cases in Colac Otway Shire.

Warrnambool has had seven straight days without a case, but the state health department is attributing 19 active cases to the city, though some of those have relocated to hotel quarantine in Melbourne.

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Recycling the waste COVID-19 has created(Emilia Terzon)

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https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-13/covid-scare-sees-grampians-businesses-shut-voluntarily/100532372