Photo Credit: Tom O’Dea

The lockdown on all of regional NSW was extended by a further week on Thursday, with it now set to end on Saturday night.

The news came as New South Wales had what was at the time a record-breaking 681 daily Covid cases.

Despite acknowledging that vast areas of regional NSW remain Covid-free, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian described the extension of restrictions for regional communities as a necessary “precautionary response”, particularly as case numbers continue to grow in western NSW.

At the time of the announcement, Deputy Premier John Barilaro was optimistic that this would be the last extension of the current stay-at-home restrictions for most of the state’s regional communities

“I’ll say this very clearly – next Saturday our intention is to lift the restrictions in regional and rural NSW.”

“That’s almost a blunt commitment,” he said.

Despite the daily case numbers soaring over 800 on three consecutive days this week, Barilaro appeared confident as of Monday that only western NSW and greater Sydney would remain in lockdown post-Saturday night.

That being said, there is set to be a final decision made on the regional NSW lockdown this afternoon. Barilaro anticipated that if the lockdown were to be extended again, it would be for longer than a week.

On Monday, daily case numbers had dropped to 753, NSW administered its six millionth dose of vaccine, and 60% of the population has now had at least one dose. The ACT had its record number of cases at 30 after they appeared to be on the improve late last week.

Throughout the week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was firm in his position regarding the current lockdown strategies of the states and declared that once vaccination targets are met, the states can no longer revert back to lockdowns when case numbers rise. Furthermore, the Prime Minister threatened to withdraw financial support for states that refuse to honour the plan.

“Once you get to 70 per cent of your country that is eligible for the vaccine and 80 per cent, the plan sets out that we have to move forward, we cannot hold back,” said Morrison.

The conflicting views being expressed by Australia’s political leaders at this stage will do nothing to calm many of our local small business owners, most of whom are experiencing significant reductions in revenue over the last ten days of lockdown.

We are privileged in the Yass Valley to harbour some incredible cafes, pubs and shops. While following the current stay-at-home restrictions is essential, supporting local small businesses when you can, is crucial in ensuring they’re all there once we return to everyday life.

Max O’Driscoll