Business Hunter CEO, Bob Hawes is urging state government agencies to increase the region’s compliance enforcement presence and offer more Hunter-specific health information and lockdown rules as the Hunter lockdown extends by another week.
“It was great to hear about record vaccination rates yesterday, yet we need to stay focused on reducing transmission and that means coming down hard on compliance,” Mr Hawes said.
“The Delta variant is clearly a game-changer and the Hunter region should no longer sit patiently by as rules are flouted.
“We saw double-figures of new cases yesterday which has meant another week of lockdowns. While this is probably not a huge surprise to people, it still adds to the pinch on our economy, and the burden on business.
“It’s clear that we’ll only get out of lockdowns now if our case numbers reduce. Let’s make this next week really count and get our numbers right down. Stay at home, follow the rules, and if you’re thinking about bending them, know that your decisions have serious consequences, not just to your hip pocket but to livelihoods.
“I heard the Premier say she had asked the Police Commissioner what more could be done for compliance to be enforced. I support the suggestion that the NSW Police be supported with boots on the ground by the Australian Defence Force.
“The Hunter needs to be one of the priority regions for these compliance enforcement resources, before things get more out of hand,” Mr Hawes said.
Business Hunter also expressed concern over access to information that is Hunter-specific.
“The press conferences at 11am each day are really useful in terms of getting the state-wide picture and understanding the significant issues still facing Sydney,” Mr Hawes said.
“But the Hunter is NSW second largest economy and our business resilience and bounce-back post-COVID will impact the entire state. We really need local representation somehow at these Q&As so that our businesses and communities can understand impacts more quickly and clearly,” he said.
Business Hunter has been advising businesses not hold back on ensuring their operations remained safe throughout this outbreak.
“Should Delta make its way deeper into our region and into big industries, this will force large scale closures. Things will look very different if industry is closed down, so business owners and site managers need to be strict about who is coming on to their premises – is it essential that they are there, if so, where are they from, are they following the check-in rules, and are they well, are they wearing a mask where required?
“If next week we are in a similar to position to where we are now, we can anticipate further lockdowns and further damage to the local economy – in some respects, its up to us.
“If that means refusing entry, insisting on check-in compliance, and reporting non-compliance, then we support people in taking a risk-averse approach.
“Business support will help us through this, and I understand that Service NSW is increasing resources to process JobSaver applications more quickly, so don’t risk it. If you can keep people at home or away from work, this will help reduce numbers and open us up more quickly,” Mr Hawes said.