Shire matters with Mark Speakman: A cautionary COVID-19 tale

You could be forgiven for thinking that life is back to normal in NSW.

'Normal' seemed like a distant memory, or an ambitious goal, earlier this year when the state faced back-to-back crises with drought, unprecedented bushfires and a global pandemic. But local sporting competitions kicked off again last weekend, most businesses have reopened, restaurants and cafes are re-welcoming patrons, you can go back to the cinema, theatre or concert hall and you can attend sporting matches at stadiums.

The greatest threat to these re-discovered freedoms is complacency.

As NSW emerges from COVID-19 dormancy, it would be foolish to overlook the many 'new normals' that accompany the easing of restrictions.

These include the 'one person per 4 square metres' rule governing indoor venues, while cultural and sporting events must limit ticket sales to a maximum of 10,000 to ensure strict guidelines are followed.

Many businesses are required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan, which can include recording customer names and phone numbers for contact tracing purposes.

Of course, the golden rules still apply as well - if you're not well, stay home and self-isolate; get yourself tested.

Until we have a vaccine, COVID-19 will continue to be a very real threat. Everyone across the community has a role to play in ensuring that hygiene and social distancing requirements are maintained and health orders are followed.

Some of us might be tempted to look across the (closed) border and, with a false air of superiority, compare NSW and Victoria - but the reality is that any state or territory could see a second wave of infections.

Governments can introduce all the policies, procedures, restrictions and protections in the world - but at the end of the day it's up to all of us to comply if we're going to suppress further outbreaks.