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Editorial March 13th 2020

Welcome to this week’s editorial, First it was fires, then floods and now pestilence that has beset our economy. It is more than evident that with the fires we were NOT prepared. No one could have anticipated what those fires did and what havoc prevailed during those long weeks that decimated our local economy. To add further insult floods followed and while the rains were welcome the consequences of flooding over a parched landscape brought further deterrents on ash laden beaches for the tourists now being called back to swim in brown murky flood waters with high E.coli counts. But come they did to bring support to our economy in a flourish of activity over the last few weeks, drawn back to the region by national campaigns, visits by TV celebrities and by widespread social media initiatives. For many businesses and local employees who had fallen through the cracks of the very conditional handouts things were picking up. We just had the Canberra long weekend and the last weeks of summer still linger. Easter approaches that will see the visitors return one last time before our annual influx of tourists draws to an end. But enter the new calamity… COVID-19. Our pestilence. Across the planet there is a hunkering down. There are towns, regions and now countries in isolation with millions now in self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. While the community is warned of the general signs to watch for to determine if someone has the virus it is also possible that the virus can also be passed on by Asymptomatic Carrier Transmission. As Trump closes down borders and Australia begins to close down events and consider closing more borders we need to look to our region and wonder how prepared we are. Presently we have visitors from all over the country arriving, encouraged to be here, coming in via plane, car and more recently by sea. It just needs ONE person to set off a train of events. Just ONE person. So is Eurobodalla ready? At what point might we advise visitors NOT to come? At what point will schools be required to close? When will Council close libraries, playgroups and bring a halt to its Community transport for our older residents? Do we have a plan? We certainly didn’t for the bushfires. At what point should we consider saying “We are NOT Open for Business? The question of continuing to passionately encourage visitors to the region to bolster our finances does expose us to what they might unknowingly bring with them. The situation reminds us of the same desperate invitation after the New Year fires to call back visitors only to put them at risk on January 23rd. However, importantly, and approaching our fourth quarter of regional recession, every visitor dollar counts. What advice do we have of where to present? As the coronavirus situation is evolving in our state we are keenly following the direction of the NSW Department of Health. We will be informing the public of any changes as they occur, however for now, it is advisable that if you have signs of an acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat) with or without fever AND have travelled internationally in the 14 days before illness onset OR have a close or casual contact in 14 days before illness onset with a confirmed case of COVID-19, you are eligible for testing. Please DO NOT attend your local general practice or hospital. It is recommended you call your GPs reception to discuss your situation and a swab can be arranged to be taken from your car. This situation is likely to change in the event of overwhelming increases in eligible cases. If you can't contact your regular doctor or local hospital, call Health Direct on 1800 022 222. Until next—Lei


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