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Editorial October 8th 2021

Welcome to this week’s editorial,

October 11th will see the Eurobodalla come out of Lock Down. Some might declare it Freedom Day and most will rejoice in being able to return to some degree of ‘normal’. Stay-at-home orders will be lifted and replaced by ‘roadmap settings’ and the list of Local Government Areas of concern will cease to exist.

That means that even though we still have active Covid cases there will no longer be lock downs. At this stage case numbers and venues of concern will continue to be reported however the future of these daily reports is unknown.

The Reopening NSW roadmap will allow fully vaccinated adults to enjoy more freedoms and workers in regional areas including the Eurobodalla who have received one vaccination dose will be permitted to return to their workplace from October 11 and will be given a grace period until November 1 to receive their second dose.

Stay at home orders will lift, meaning that you can leave your home for any reason. This will see an increase in visitors to the region except those from who intend on embarking on a travel holiday between Greater Sydney (including Central Coast, Wollongong, Shellharbour and Blue Mountains) and Regional NSW. Under the Road Map as it stands these folk are not permitted to come to the shire.

But fortunately travel holidays between regional local government areas are permitted which will see the return of many who come from inland in pursuit of the wonderful coastline we have. To accommodate them Caravan parks and camping grounds will reopen for visitors including people who are not fully vaccinated if the facility allows. For the minute unvaccinated people can only holiday within their LGA.

Our friends from Victoria are now welcome to come in on the proviso that they travel to their holiday home or accommodation immediately stay there unless they have a reasonable excuse to leave — such as getting food, going to school or childcare, or exercising outdoors, and stay there for 14 days since they left the area of concern.

They must complete a travel declaration within the 24 hours before you enter NSW. As to who monitors this is anyone’s guess.

Until otherwise announced our friends from the ACT will be able to travel into NSW for work and are expected to follow the rules of the ACT lockdown even when in NSW. They will also have to complete a new declaration form every 72 hours.

As to who will be monitoring all these declarations and compliances is again, anyone’s guess.

So we can expect a lot more visitors to the coast in the coming weeks that will be a real ‘shot in the arm’ for our local businesses.

On the subject of ‘shots in the arm’ Eurobodalla vaccination rates have been awesome with 95% first and 72.5% 2nd shots up to October 3rd. To 11.59pm on Wednesday October 6 across NSW, 89.4 per cent of the over-16 population had received a first dose COVID-19 vaccine, and 70.3 per cent were fully vaccinated.

Once we arrive 80% the restrictions will lift further still. Most likely this will allow Greater Sydney to come south that will bring a swell in numbers once again. It looks as though we are in for a bumper Christmas.

But what of the 20% unvaccinated. Where do they stand when they find they are not allowed access to premises?

Businesses have the right to set conditions of entry to their premises, including a requirement to be vaccinated.

It's also correct that an unvaccinated person would not be directly protected under discrimination laws at a Commonwealth, state or territory level, however there is a potential for instances of unlawful indirect discrimination should businesses impose a blanket ban and fail to provide exceptions to those who are unable to be vaccinated on medical or age-based eligibility grounds, or those who had not yet had access to the vaccine.

There is evidence already of anti-vaxers who do not intend to be vaccinated. Unable to provide evidence of valid exemption and given the widespread improved access to the vaccine it will be interesting indeed to see what doors will be opened to those who oppose being vaccinated.

In the Lucky Country we have those opposed to Covid vaccinations making fake bookings at clinics in a bid to disrupt the rollout, taking the slots of vulnerable patients. Their intent is to try to derail the rollout in the naïve hope that the doses will be thrown out.

As to what will happen to us once the borders open and we all begin to mingle is, once again, anyone’s guess. Here is hoping for the best.

On a positive note there has not been a single outcry from any antivaxers over the incredible news that the World Health Organization on Wednesday endorsed the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine for further trails. The decision followed a review of a pilot programme deployed since 2019 in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi in which more than two million doses were given of the vaccine.

The World malaria report 2019 estimated that globally, there were an estimated 228 million cases of malaria in 89 countries.

Having had malaria many times and having witnessed first hand the debilitating effect that malaria has on family, friends and community the announcement of a vaccine brings joy knowing that Papua New Guinea is to be included in the roll-out.

Though considerable progress towards controlling malaria has been made in PNG through education and the distribution of robust insecticidal nets over 60% of the 7 million people of PNG still live in areas where malaria transmission is endemic.

Having travelled extensively through PNG, South East Asia and the Sub Continent (with an up-to-date list of jabs taped inside my passport) I have seen first hand the effects of malaria, measles, whooping cough, TB and polio on those in developing countries. The rollout of vaccines to these countries sees day to day improvements to so many lives who can least afford time away from sourcing money and food, let alone paying for medicines. For some reason there is little, if any, anti-vax outcry in these countries.

In time, across the planet, there may still be those who choose not to be vaccinated for all manner of things. Possibly, like those not vaxinated against Yellow Fever, entry will not be allowed. We are seeing this already in schools and childcare and now, regarding Covid, with Qantas and others. No Double Dose = No Fly.

In the coming weeks we can expect visitors to the Shire from all quarters. They will be double vaxed, single vaxed and no-vaxed. And among them will be active Covid cases. We know that those who are double vaxed can still get Covid (with a hope of lesser impact and hopefully not requiring hospitalisation). We know that those who do contract it will still need to self-isolate and not move about. We now know that we are being told that this will be our new ‘normal’. We also know that Covid will stay with us. And that there will be unvaccinated who will succumb to the impact of the full impact of Covid.

And as to what will happen next ……… ?

That’s anyone’s guess…….

Until next