OPINION: The Reality of Covid Restrictions – What is essential travel?


DEAR News Of The Area,

FOLLOWING the near hysterical outcome of the alleged breach of quarantine restrictions by a construction worker who is said to have attended a local hotel in Coffs Harbour last week, the question to be asked is how such an event could even occur when such draconian and, arguably, well known to everyone, restrictions on intra and inter-state apply?

The potential for such events and even far worse to occur again may not be as rare as one might think.

Currently as we all should be aware, restrictions are in place that limit the capacity to travel outside the majority of Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains and Wollongong LGAs.

The imposition of those restrictions appears to be tempered however by what appears to be a measure of a double standard.

According to the Premier, essential workers may still engage in work related travel.

The Government has nevertheless steadfastly resisted calls to define what the term ‘essential’ worker means and it seems that term may be qualified according to what the ‘work’ entails.

The common sense approach dictates ‘essential’ means something that is absolutely necessary to sustain the activities of daily living.

The problem appears to be however that rather than sustaining the essential activities of daily living, the definition is being loosely applied to anyone who has some fleeting attachment to the essentials of daily living rather than an actual need to be involved in that function.

No one would argue that workers such as men and women that provide services to keep the community functioning during these difficult times are essential workers.

However, it appears the term ‘essential worker’ is being interpreted as someone who has the potential rather than an actual obligation to provide absolutely essential services.

No clearer evidence of this is the fact that a number of professional service providers are escaping the lock down restrictions simply on that basis of their profession.

Doctors, for instance, are allowed to travel from inside the restricted areas to anywhere in the State regardless of whether they are actually providing an absolutely necessary service that requires them to travel.

Rather than an absolutely necessary classification some professionals and indeed other trades are using the term loosely to define the term essential worker based on a perception that their function is to provide an essential rather than an absolutely necessary service

There is no argument that a doctor is required to be available when and if needed to provide treatment for sick patients.

The line becomes a bit blurred however when doctors continue to see patients in regional areas despite there being no urgent need for them to do so.

Equally some politicians, entertainers (football and sporting participants included) and other fringe ‘essential’ workers are avoiding the restrictions based on the misconception that they contribute ‘essential’ services to our activities of daily living.

I fail to see how an entertainer or sports person can avoid the lock down sanctions when they do not actually provide any absolutely necessary services to the community that can just as easily be provided at a time in the future when the current emergency has abated.

Traffic in the Coffs Harbour CBD has hardly been affected by the Sydney and environs lock down and unless there is evidence that a majority of the traffic is from interstate, the borders to which are also under lock down restrictions anyway, one has to question whether the current lockdown is effective.

It is also noted that an aircraft recently left Sydney to fly to Balina with an infectious passenger on board.

Seriously, unless the aircraft was carrying only emergency workers, questions must be asked about the wisdom of allowing a plane full of passengers either from, or transiting a red zone to fly?

As we have seen it only takes one person (the current outbreak of Covid can be traced back to the limousine driver who picked up an infected air crew member back in early June 2021) to start the spread of the disease which has now seen four states impose quite severe travel restrictions.

Based on that and the continuing failure by our erstwhile politicians to manage an effective vaccine strategy, one has to ask the question why, if it is so easy to spread the virus, anyone who does not have an absolute necessity to do so, in order to maintain the activities of daily living, is permitted to travel.

Surely travel should be restricted to only those whose need as a matter of emergency!

Robert HARRIS,

Sapphire Beach.

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