Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan says statewide lockdown was “necessary” but the short notice was “especially tough” for businesses

A sign outside the Stuarts Point Tavern as the snap lockdown began.

 

FEDERAL Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan has described the call that plunged the Nambucca Valley into a snap lockdown along with the rest of New South Wales as “necessary” but said the short notice provided was “especially tough” on businesses.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro used social media to announce at about 3pm on Saturday, August 14, that the state would go into a seven-day lockdown, starting at 5pm, which Conaghan said left business owners with little time to “get their business affairs in order and inform employees”.

“The biggest issue with this current lockdown was the lack of notice given to businesses,” Conaghan said.

“The timing wasn’t good, perhaps if they had locked down at midnight, this would have allowed more appropriate time and a bit more understanding from the regional community.”

Conaghan said “the general feeling” across the state was that “patience was wearing thin” and that he’d “received a lot of correspondence” about the lockdown from his constituents.

“People are asking ‘why did we have to have this lockdown when we’ve had no cases in over 450 days’ and to that I would like to remind people that Western NSW didn’t have any cases 10 days ago and now there are 93 active cases,” Conaghan said, in an interview with News of the Area on Monday, August 16.

“People generally understand the need for a snap lockdown to ensure that we contain these numbers across the state, and if we don’t do that, it’s only a matter of time before it will be in Cowper.

“It came as close as Forster in the neighbouring Lyne electorate, as well as above us in Lismore.”

Conaghan acknowledged it was a difficult time for everyone, particularly business owners.

“I feel for you, I know you are frustrated and I know you are angry but it needs to be done and hopefully for our community at least, this will be the last time,” he said.

“I urge the community to support one another during this difficult time.

“Pick up the phone and check in on your family and friends, particularly the most vulnerable.

“Shop local and support local business, grab a takeaway from your favourite café or restaurant, consider ordering online from the stores with the ability to deliver, book services for a later date and consider paying ahead. And of course, importantly, get vaccinated.”

A spokesperson for the Deputy Premier said the statewide lockdown was announced in response to health advice that was received after midday on Saturday and that social media was used as part of a strategy to spread the information quickly.

“The priority was to make regional communities aware as quickly as possible, rather than to spend hours arranging a press conference with journalists in Sydney,” the spokesperson said.

“To give the regions as much notice as possible, regional Government MPs were briefed and encouraged to urgently share the news with their electorates and an official NSW Health media release was issued statewide.”

At the time of going to print, it was unclear if the lockdown would be extended beyond the original end date of Saturday, August 21, and the Deputy Premier declined to respond to questions about the likelihood of an extension or when it will be announced.

Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey advised businesses and individuals requiring financial support to visit the COVID-19 Assistance Finder, which is available at disasterassistance.service.nsw.gov.au/covid, or to apply for a Commonwealth GovernmentCOVID-19 Disaster Payment via servicesaustralia.gov.au.

“I understand many people in the region were disappointed by the disruption to their lives,” she said.

“I can assure people the decision was not taken lightly, and is intended to prevent transmission of Covid-19 into our region and across NSW.

“I encourage people to contact Service NSW directly by calling 13 77 88 or emailing [email protected] if they have queries or concerns.”

 

By Brooke LEWIS

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