By Jed Lanyon and Romy Stephens
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has seen a number of community and council organisations to close temporarily following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that gatherings of more than 100 people indoors should cease immediately from Wednesday 18 March.
The new measures are in addition to the banning of mass outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people and the 14-day isolation of travellers coming to Australia that are already in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Yarra Ranges Council announced the temporary closure of public libraries, cultural and recreation centres from 19 March to 14 April in an attempt to help slow the spread of COVID-19 within its workforce and the community.
All Yarra Ranges Council libraries operated in partnership with Eastern Regional Libraries will be closed.
This includes Belgrave Library, Healesville Library, Lilydale Library, Montrose Library, Mooroolbark Library, Yarra Junction Library.
Aquatic and recreation centres will be closed, including Lilydale Outdoor Waterplay, Seville Waterplay Park, Monbulk Aquatic Centre, Kilsyth Pool, Jack Hort Pool and Yarra Recreation Centre.
Cultural venues such as The Memo Healesville, Art Centre Warburton, Montrose Town Centre, Mooroolbark Community Centre, Burrinja Cultural Centre and Yarra Ranges Regional Museum will also shut down temporarily.
Council said there is a possibility that these closures could be extended beyond the initial period stated.
“These are important services and Yarra Ranges Council understands the additional social and cultural role these facilities play in our community,” A Yarra Ranges Council statement said.
“We will look to find alternative and creative ways to engage and connect people over these coming weeks.”
Parks Victoria decided to close high visitation sites with a typical attendance of over 500 people outdoors, and 100 people indoors.
These included the 1000 Steps, Lyrebird Track, Dandenong Ranges Botanical Garden and William Ricketts Sanctuary.
Puffing Billy announced a temporary closure of its services from 23 March after careful consideration of advice from the State and Federal Government.
“With the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak being felt more each day, our primary concern is for the safety and wellbeing of visitors, volunteers, employees and the community at large,” the organisation said in a statement.
“In these uncertain times, we must all help ease the spread of this virus and look out for those most vulnerable.
“We will work with Victorian Government and public health officials to assess when it is safe to reopen the Railway and will communicate this via our website and social media channels.”
The TarraWarra Museum of Art has shut their doors to visitors from Thursday 19 March.
“In light of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation and with the safety of our staff and visitors in mind, TarraWarra Museum of Art will temporarily close to the public.”
Healesville’s YAVA Gallery and Arts Hub followed suit closing for the foreseeable future, but said they hope to introduce an online model to support those in isolation.
A YAVA spokesperson said, “Our current show Outsiders, with works from Kerryl Shirley and NW Wenhuda, will be represented online so that people can see it without the need to visit in person… We are working on creating a series of online content to keep you connected to our arts community and fill the void while in isolation.”
Some local fire brigades have modified their activities in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Seville Fire Brigade and Wesburn-Millgrove Fire Brigade announced the cancellation of training and meeting sessions as well as community events and appearances. CFA Media did not respond for comment.
The Giant Dogs Picnic Fun Day set to take place at Lillydale Lake on 19 April was also one of the latest community events to be canceled.