Welcome to this week’s editorial,
Here we were, all hunkered down and doing the right thing. Our shops were shut, we were abiding by the rules, generally, and our supermarkets looked more like singles bars with shoppers slowly moving through the aisles accompanied only by their phone and someone at the other end suggesting cleaning fluids and current pumpkin status.
The countdown was on for the Lock Down to be lifted. There was excitement in the air. The Premier kept us updated on percentage of folks vaccinated and with each press call she hinted at the freedoms ahead. If only we continue to get vaccinated and do the right thing.
Eurobodalla was, until this week, a Golden Child. Our vaccination rates were some of the best in the state and, given that accessing vaccinations in the Shire has been a struggle for months, the numbers were another positive that the Lock Down might end.
But all it takes is just one case to stuff the entire thing up.
The entire Shire is well aware by now of the fact that we have three cases of Covid in Batemans Bay and that they have detected Covid in the Moruya sewer.
The other thing the entire shire is aware of is the way the exposure has been handled.
How a community could come under attack from a single Covid case that would see them without any information for days of venues of concern and more than that, any information of how, when, why or who? And why has it taken so long for the community to be advised, especially given that the Delta strain is meant to be so contagious. Fair questions.
What do we know?
The interview of Deputy Premier Barilaro by Ray Hadley on 2GB this morning throws some light on all the rumours and accusations that have filled social media this week.
“Uncooperative ex-con’s illegal party risks keeping South Coast locked down” 2GB Sept 10th 2021
You can listen to the interview here:
In that interview Ray Hadley suggested that the South Coast will likely remain in lockdown after a man newly released from prison held a party, which Batemans Bay locals believe all cases and sewage detections can be traced back to.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro confirmed to Ray Hadley the story is true “in line with what I’ve understood and heard”.
“The bit that concerns me the most is that individual not being cooperative, because what it’s meant is that we’re not sure where the exposure sites are.
“The reality here is we’ve put a region that had no cases for the whole period … in lockdown because of it.”
When asked earlier in the week why there were delays in releasing information about venues of concern the Deputy Premier Barilaro could only reply, under privacy laws to say “it was complex”.
So all it required to put an entire region in Lock Down for another two weeks was just one person to begin the domino of the virus through the community. Sadly the people involved have been “unco-operative”.
The community have been angry that there has been a delay in critical information being provided by authorities. The fact of the matter is that the authorities (Contact Tracers) have had little if anything to go on.
It is known that a person came into the shire. It is now understood that they had been released from a place that had the virus. Were they the one who carried the virus? We don’t know. The fact that they came from a site that had the virus raises the question of why a person was allowed to travel into the region, and more importantly, into a region that has limited health resources, a high aged population along with an indigenous population who are, by records, under vaccinated. Obviously there was an exemption. Obviously the authorities weighed up the risk and released the person into the community aware of the potentials. But was the release conditional of requiring self isolation? We can only assume so as that is required of us all.
But then we learn from Deputy Premier Barilaro is that the person attended an illegal (Under Covid Lock Down rules) party and has, since that event, been unco-operative with authorities in advising of details of movements.
Meantime the community is becoming more aware of the details around the case and the movements via social media, but without being given anything that might present as a formal statement the scuttlebutt and rumours only grew and with that the fear of the unknown. Where had they been? When were they there? Panic set in and each day that passed with no further information only added to the situation.
The Contact Tracers on this case have had to think outside the square in order to establish venues of concern, being aware that the person most likely did not scan in or out of venues. What is required of the Contact Tracers is the painstaking task of reviewing video footage of primary venues such as Woolies, Dan Murphys and even the Post Office to see if persons of interest can be seen coming and going. Next come credit card transactions and interviews with possible witnesses. Very complex indeed and sadly, unnecessarily and intentionally made all the more complex via someone who has decided not to assist.
Now there are three cases in the Bay and Covid traces in Moruya sewer and the further impact, if there is one, will not be known for days. In the meantime most of the community are being tested and abiding by the Lock Down rules hoping this will all go away.
But what lies ahead? The government has announced that travel to regional areas will open again as soon as we arrive at 70 per cent double dose vaccinated. It is anticipated that will be around Mid October.
Stay-at-home orders for adults who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be lifted from the very first Monday after NSW passes the 70 per cent double vaccination target, under the roadmap to freedom released yesterday (Thurs Sep 9th 2021). Hitting the 70 per cent double dose milestone will allow the state to open up for those who have received both.
BUT only fully vaccinated people and those with medical exemptions will have access to the freedoms allowed under the Reopening NSW roadmap.
Fully vaccinated will be able to enjoy Domestic travel, including trips to regional NSW and allowed back in caravan parks and camping grounds.
Masks will remain mandatory for all indoor public venues.
When NSW hits the 80 per cent double dose target, the government say they intend to open up further freedoms around international travel, community sport, major events and other areas.
The government is currently working on how to tell the Fully vaccinated from the partly vaccinated and the un-vaccinated. The present idea is a passport and a QR Code at the doorway to a venue that alarms if you don’t pass muster.
No doubt there are interesting days ahead for us when the regions open up to visitors. Working on a quasi herd immunity notion it will be fine for someone with Covid to travel here and spread it because we have been vaccinated and will hopefully only get sick rather than require hospitalisation or face death. Being vaccinated doesn’t mean that we won’t pass it on ourselves, but if we do we can only hope we passed it on to someone who is also vaccinated.
Hot spots won’t be broadcast daily from next week. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced the state's daily 11:00am COVID-19 press conference will end from Monday.
ABC reports that instead of the daily briefing, NSW Health will publish daily videos outlining the latest information.
“Ms Berejiklian said she and the Health Minister would address the public "intermittently" on a needs basis. I will turn up when I need to but to expect the leader of the government indefinitely to do this every day means that I am not doing my job properly," she said.
The good news is that, starting on Monday, those in the Shire who have been double vaxed will be granted privileges unavailable to single dose and no-dose members of the community.
Interesting times ahead ….