After months of easing restrictions, the people of Canowindra are now under heightened rules brought in by the NSW Government, as Greater Sydney sees COVID-19 cases surge. While the Central West has so far avoided lockdown, the rise of the highly infectious Delta strain of the virus means the region, along with the rest of NSW, must tighten its laws to avoid an outbreak.
Locals are not used to COVID restrictions, having only experienced a short lockdown over one year ago and never being subject to a mask mandate. While some find the limitations unnecessary given no cases have been detected in the Central West, others are acutely aware of how quickly the pandemic could reach the banks of the Belubula and bring devastation to our aging community.
Current restrictions include limitations of five guests in each household, indoor mask wearing in non-residential and work settings and organised outdoor events, a ban on drinking while standing at indoor venues, a ban on dancing at indoor hospitality venues, limitations of 20 people per dance or gym class, outdoor seated events limited to 50% seated capacity and the “one person per four square metre rule” for all indoor and outdoor settings, including weddings and funerals. Those who have been in the Greater Sydney region on or after 21 June must follow stay-at-home orders for a period of 14 days having left the district.
The outbreak has come at an especially cruel time, ruining school holiday plans to great social and economic detriment. While Central West children are not subject to the lockdown that has plagued school students in Greater Sydney for three consecutive holidays, travel plans have been interrupted, forcing last minute changes that affect not only family morale, but wallets too. Meanwhile, NSW’s tourism sector is reeling after seeing a crucial two weeks of income, meant to stave off ruin, evaporate in mere days. Canowindra has seen the cancellation of not only club and society meetings, but social events such as the 12 Hour Dance.
Having avoided more devastating lockdowns seen in Victoria, New South Welshmen have been able to enjoy a lifestyle few countries could afford in 2021, but as people around the world are being swiftly vaccinated, whatever advantage we held is being quickly lost, as the Australian Government continues to struggle to roll out a timely and effective vaccination plan.
Locals have been urged not to become complacent by the Western NSW Local Health District Chief (WNSWLHD) Executive Scott McLachlan earlier this week, who has called for all those sick to present to a testing clinic, no matter how mild their possible COVID-19 symptoms are, including but not limited to fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose and loss of taste or smell.
For local COVID testing, a clinic is open from Monday to Friday at the Canowindra Soldiers Memorial Hospital from 9:10am to 10:30am. Appointments can be made by phoning 6364 4300. If unwell, WNSWLHD advises that you present to the emergency department for 24/7 testing.
There is some good news as the Canowindra Medical Practice is now offering the AstraZeneca vaccination to anyone over the age of 60. The Practice asks that all interested discuss their options with their GP. All vaccinations are performed on Fridays during clinic hours and appointments must be made via phone on 6344 1350.
WNSWLHD advises that people who are unable to get the AstraZeneca vaccine use the eligibility checker online to see if they currently qualify for Pfizer: www.healthdirect.gov.au.