The global pandemic of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has seen unprecedented actions being taken by Governments around the world. These actions are designed to slow down the spread of the virus so that medical services are not overwhelmed, and lives are saved. The actions are largely based around prevention, through good hygienic practices, or by social distancing to prevent human to human transmission, either directly or indirectly, through close contact with an infected person.

The Department of Health, as the lead agency responsible for combating the pandemic in Australia, has directed effective from Monday 16 March 2020, that organised, non-essential gatherings are to be limited to 500 people. In addition, all visitors travelling into Australia from midnight Sunday 15 March must self-isolate for 14 days. Non-Australian based cruise ships are also barred from docking in Australian ports for 30 days.

Non-essential gatherings, meetings or conferences of critical workforces, such as health care professionals and emergency services, are to be limited. This advice does not include workplaces, schools, universities, shops, supermarkets, public transport and airports.

Parkes Shire Council has a responsibility to manage the health risks to its employees, contractors, councillors, visitors and customers that attend its workplaces. To that end, a risk based alert strategy has been developed to guide Council’s response as the pandemic unfolds over the coming weeks and months.

Council's General Manager, Kent Boyd PSM said, "Council is well prepared to provide continuous service while ensuring the community and our own safety is protected. We have developed a response plan for critical services at various levels of infection, within the organisation and or the community."

The directives thus far will have an impact on Council’s operations and community events such as the ABBA Festival and upcoming winter sporting events.

"Council will proactively support any Government directive and guideline in relation to managing the spread of COVID-19. This includes limited organisational travel outside the region to essential purposes only, encouraging social-distancing and reviewing all of our own events and gatherings, and assessing the need for them to occur."

"Council will also work with other event organisers with planned events in the vicinity of 500 and ensure they aware these events must be cancelled." Said Mr Boyd.

"We are also encouraging residents to re-think the need to come into Council's offices for day to day transactions such as payments of rates, applications and general requests. Council offers online payment options to pay your rates and application fees, and we can be contacted via phone or email during office hours. You can also connect with Council through our Facebook or Twitter channels."

"With many businesses already being impacted by this pandemic, whilst also still feeling the effects of prolonged drought, it is more important than ever that we advocate for increased local procurement to support our businesses to be resilient and get through these tough times." Mr Boyd concluded.