Council calls on NSW Government to review Covid travel exemption

Port Macquarie-Hastings

Mayor Peta Pinson and Council CEO Dr Clare Allen have written to the NSW Government, conveying the community’s frustration and opposition to the travel exemption that allows Greater Sydney residents to visit regional areas to inspect the property.

A resident of Sydney used the exemption process to fly to Port Macquarie earlier this month, while infectious with COVID-19. During their stay they visited at least 20 venues, leading to stay-at-home orders being imposed across the local government area for seven days from 6pm on 28 September.

“This lockdown – in the second week of the school holidays and over a long weekend – is devastating for our residents, visitors to the area, and local businesses,” Mayor Pinson said.

“Our community has done the right thing in complying with COVID-19 restrictions and vaccination messages, with no locally transmitted cases for well over a year – but that’s now been undone by the actions of one person from outside the area.”

Dr Allen said that “since the stay-at-home order was implemented, many residents have contacted myself and the Mayor to voice their concerns.”

Mayor Pinson said that it is important to continue to look out for each other’s safety and wellbeing at this very difficult time.

“Our community is hurting right now; my heart is breaking at some of the messages I’ve received about the impact of this lockdown on families and businesses,” she said.

“We’ve heard and referred your concerns that the permit system is a loophole. This needs to be closed to protect communities such as ours from further incidents.

“In the meantime, please keep following the health advice; get vaccinated, come forward for testing where required, and help keep our region safe.”

/Public Release. View in full here.