Statewide lockdown announced for NSW, high viral loads identified in Medowie, Williamtown and Raymond Terrace sewerage

Businesses have closed as a result of the lockdown. Photo: Marian Sampson.

 

PORT Stephens, along with the rest of NSW is locked down and high viral loads of Covid-19 has been identified in the sewerage from the Medowie, Williamtown and Raymond Terrace catchment.

At the time of writing there were 9 cases in the Port Stephens region, with two of unknown origin.

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However, experts fear more cases may be lurking in the region due to the amount of virus found in the sewerage.

What this means for our community is a greater need for more testing, less mobility in the region and a community that hunkers down and follows the health advice – Stay At Home.

Most importantly is the need to stick to the 5km limit of movement and getting tested, isolating until a negative result is returned and following the public health orders.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the vast majority of people are doing the right thing but there are a handful of people who are wilfully breaking the rules and putting the rest of the community at risk.

“The increased fines and heightened police presence are about ensuring people who are doing the wrong thing are caught and punished appropriately,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Under the changes, there will be increased fines for Public Health Order breaches, a permit system to enter regional NSW and tightened rules for people in LGAs of concern to help reduce the spread of the Delta variant.

Increased fines for Public Health Order breaches include $5,000 on the spot fine for breaching self-isolation rules; $5,000 on the spot fine for lying on a permit (already a criminal offence); $5,000 on the spot fine for lying to a contact tracer (already a criminal offence); $3,000 on the spot fine for breaching the two person outdoor exercise/recreation rule; and $3,000 on the spot fine for breaching rules around entry into regional NSW for authorised work, inspecting real estate and travelling to your second home.

Any person who wishes to travel to regional NSW for one of the following reasons must have a permit which will be made available on Service NSW.

a. authorised workers from LGAs of concern;

b. Inspecting real estate. Any person inspecting real estate in the regions must now genuinely need a home to live in (no investment properties);

c. Travelling to your second home. This is now only allowed if you are using the home for work accommodation or if the home requires urgent maintenance and repairs (if so, only one person may travel there).

Dr David Durrheim, Public Health Physician for Hunter New England Health said, “We need to all work together to ensure that this lockdown is the very last one that we need to endure in the Hunter New England region.”

Community members have expressed dismay at facing long delays in receiving test results.

Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington has also expressed concern that eligible workers aged 17 and over who live in Sydney’s LGAs of concern will be eligible for a $320 COVID-19 Test and Isolate Support Payments in a four week period for lost wages, while this payment is not offered to locals in Port Stephens.

“Shockingly, we have learned this morning that Hunter workers will not be eligible for the Berejiklian Government’s $320 Test and Isolate Support Payment.

“This is unacceptable.

“I have called on the Premier to reverse this ridiculous decision, stop neglecting the Hunter region, and start governing for everyone.

“Workers in the Hunter deserve the same support as Sydney,” she said.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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