Dogs may be a good coronavirus "defence"

Letters, dogs in the ute - proving you're a farmer during the lockdown


Mitchell Shire farmers are finding innovative ways of proving they're abiding by COVID-19 restrictions.

BORDERLANDS: Seymour sheep and cattle producer Brian Leahy is right on the border of Mitchell and Murrundindi shires.

BORDERLANDS: Seymour sheep and cattle producer Brian Leahy is right on the border of Mitchell and Murrundindi shires.

Primary producers in Mitchell Shire, included in Victoria's latest oronavirus six-week lockdown, have taken to writing letters for their employees, as proof their staff are at work.

The shire, on the northern border of metropolitan Melbourne, was included in the stage three "stay at home" restrictions.

The reintroduction of restrictions followed a spike in coronavirus cases, in northern and western Melbourne.

As of Monday, the total number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Victoria stood at 3,967, with the addition of 177 new cases.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said to assist in enforcing the new restrictions, vehicle checkpoints were now in place across nine major arterial roads.

"The checkpoints will be operational 24 hours a day and will remain in place for the coming weeks," the spokeswoman said.

"Police will be intercepting vehicles at random to ensure they are complying with the restrictions.

"Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology will also be used at these sites to detect vehicles that are registered to owners who live in council areas in stage three stay at home restrictions"

There would also be mobile police vehicles across Victoria, enforcing the CHO restrictions.

"Police will ask a multitude of questions to confirm the reason for travel before determining whether any infringement is issued,' the spokeswoman said.

"This may include asking the person whether they have any documentation to support their reasoning for travel."

There would be no permit system, but police would use common sense, so if anyone was travelling for work, they wouldn't receive a fine.

Read more:

Melbourne lockdown: how will the boundary be enforced?

Mixed impact on agriculture from latest coronavirus shutdowns

Letter writing

Allen Snaith, Warialda Belted Galloway Beef, Clonbinane, said his workers lived in Mitchell Shire.

He said he understood they could move around, as animal care was classified as an essential service.

"I've got cattle at Healesville (in the Yarra Ranges Shire), a friend from the Mornington Peninsula looks after," Mr Snaith said.

During the first lockdown, he wrote his friend an official letter, explaining his circumstances.

"I can't imagine the police will give me a hard time, if I'm in a cattle truck,' he said.

"I think the police are going to be sensible.

"If they see a guy in a ute, wth a bale of hay and a fair bit of equipment in the back, well, he's not going to the pictures, is he?"

Neighbouring properties

Sarah Thomson, Keeyuga Pastoral Co, Glenaroua, said she had also wrote all her employees a letter, which they could keep in their glove box.

She said it explained the property details and that agriculture was an essential service.

"We just have to be careful, if we did need something outside this region, we would go to Bendigo," Ms Thomson said.

She was hopeful there would be no problems with travel into the neighbouring Strathbogie shire.

"We farm on properties in the Mitchell and Strathbogie Shires and need to travel between them."

While some people had suggested the regulations should have been based on postcodes, that was not practical.

"We are 2.8 kilomtres up a dirt road and our postcode is Kilmore, but we are 27km from Kilmore."

Brian Leahy, who runs sheep and cattle north of Seymour, said he lived right on the boundary of the Mitchell Shire.

"I'm right on the corner of Murrindindi shire, it's a stone's throw for me, and I am out of the shire," Mr Leahy said.

"I can't go anywhere unless I go into the Murrindindi shire."

He said he was confused as to what he could do, especially if police checked his licence and saw where he lived.

"I might just pack a few dogs in the back (of the ute)," Mr Leahy said

"I've got other property in the shire but I'm not sure, if it gets worse, whether I will be required to get a permit.

"It's all a bit unknown for us, at the moment, it's early days and we don't know where we stand.

"We don't know whether the police are going to employ a hard enforcement."

Deliveries continue

McIvor Farm Foods Belinda Hagan, Tooborac, said deliveries of the company's pork products were still continuing, as they were classified as work.

"We are allowed to exit the shire, in terms of deliveries, as long as we are being sensible in terms of hygiene and social distancing," Ms Hagan said.

"We feel its business as usual, we are not really affected."

McIvors was still supplying Melbourne butcher's shops and had continued its home deliveries.

"Everyone needs to be responsible and diligent, I say ' if you are not well, stay at home, and go and get someone else to do the deliveries'," she said.

McIvor continued doing what it had done, during the first set of restrictions.

"We can make deliveries as contactless as possible," Ms Hagan said.

"I did 10 hours of driving and covered 500km and didn't see anyone in person."

She said the delivery vans were filled, before leaving the property, which meant no-one had to call in at a petrol station.

"We just keep adjusting, that's the thing with small business, we have the ability to adapt very quickly."

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