Shire Matters with Mark Speakman: A COVID Safe Shire

The recent COVID-19 outbreaks (fortunately for now, relatively contained in NSW) have taught us a number of lessons.

The greatest lesson is that complacency can be catastrophic.

We can't allow that to become the norm while we continue to live with this pandemic. While the efforts of many have been outstanding, sadly I'm still seeing plenty of complacency across the Shire.

In NSW we've had a restaurant, a hotel and a club become sources of major outbreaks in recent weeks. NSW Health has been working hard on contact tracing, testing and quarantine to stop the spread.

The economic impact of the virus has been dramatic. Economic recovery can't however come at the expense of health and safety - any shortcuts will only send us spiralling backwards.

We all want to support our local businesses to get back on their feet. In welcome news, councils and local chambers of commerce can now apply for up to $2,000 each in grant funding to run activities in their communities as part of this year's NSW Small Business Month. Apply via www.businessmonth.nsw.gov.au.

Our local businesses and their customers can play a big role in helping to contain the virus too.

Businesses must operate in a 'COVID Safe' way. They can visit https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/covid-safe-businesses to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan and register as a 'COVID Safe' business. COVID Safety Checklists for different industries are also available online.

Customers can do their part too, by ensuring that they stay home if unwell, socially distance when visiting a venue and register their details upon entry.

New restrictions also came into force on 24 July for restaurants, bars, cafés and clubs, bringing them into line with pubs. These include limiting group bookings to a maximum of 10 people and mandating digital record keeping for contact tracing purposes. The latest restrictions serve should as a caution to business owners, as hefty fines apply if they're not followed.