As I'm sure the community is aware the COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) outbreak has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and it continues to create massive disruption across the world.

The Australian and NSW Governments are actively increasing controls in response to a surge in new infections. The latest restrictions announced yesterday included the closure of venues where social gatherings occur. These restrictions will see licensed pubs, clubs, cinemas, places of worship and nightclubs closed as of midday Monday. Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery.

Essential services that can continue to operate include supermarkets, pharmacies and public transport. A detailed list of what will be closed and what can remain open is listed on the Federal Government’s website www.australia.gov.au

The Federal Government has announced a welcomed $66 billion economic stimulus package aimed at individuals and small businesses to manage cash flow challenges and retain employees. Assistance includes:

  • Boosting cash flow for employers
  • Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses
  • Increasing the instant asset write-off
  • Backing business investment
  • Supporting apprentices and trainees

Some states have imposed interstate border closures including Tasmania, Queensland and the Northern Territory. The Prime Minster has urged residents to limit any non-essential travel with only a trip to the shops or to get to school endorsed. NSW Schools remain open with directive to parents to keep kids home if these arrangements are suitable for the family and support measures are in place.

Whilst Council supports the Governments decisions at both a State and Federal level to curve the spread of this vial disease, we know that these decisions will have negative impacts, on our local businesses, and our hearts go out to them and their employees. Council will strive to understand the impact of these decisions on the business community and lobby to Government on their behalf.

Cr Ken Keith OAM, Mayor of Parkes Shire reassured the community stating we are all in this together.

“Be assured that as your local Council we are here to ensure essential services continue to be delivered to our community and we will support you in any capacity we can.”

Whilst there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Parkes LGA, the surge in cases around NSW is concerning and Council has actively been putting measures in place to respond to these increased risks.

“Councils operations will begin to be scaled back to essential services only. This includes bringing forward to the closure of our public swimming pools as of close of business Tuesday 24 March.”

‘Services are also being reviewed at the Parkes Shire Libraries with public access to the premises to be restricted by close of business Tuesday 24 March. Staff will be moving to a revised model of online and over the phone services until further notice.”

“The Parkes Visitor Information Centre (VIC) will also follow suit with restricting access by the public to the facilities and closing museums at the Henry Parkes Centre temporarily. A similar model to that offered by other VIC’s around Australia will be implemented during this time including provision of online and phone enquiries during regular opening hours.

Council will start planning for possible further restrictions or closures of customer service areas in our public offices, meetings spaces and consolidation of public amenities to ensure we are prepared to act swiftly should the need arise.

“This is a challenging time for us all, let’s support each other, be kind and heed the directives of government to ensure we all stay safe."