The region’s peak business group Business Hunter is echoing concerns some in the community are not taking health advice seriously, as local COVID case numbers as the regional lockdown continues.
“Case numbers are now over 20 in the Hunter which puts us at risk of extended lockdowns beyond 12 August. This is not a situation we want to be in. It will have a devastating impact on communities and businesses, so we urge people to take this seriously,” said Business Hunter CEO Bob Hawes.
“We’re dealing with a week of business shutdowns on the back of an incident that occurred in breach of health orders - this should never have happened six weeks after Greater Sydney was locked down.
“It’s troubling that we’re still hearing media of reports of selfish acts in clear defiance of the health orders. It’s not on and we should be loathed as a community to allow a difficult situation to get worse.
“The hardest hit sectors in the Hunter region of Accommodation and Food Service, Arts and Recreation alone employ around 26,860 people, provide around $21.7 million per week in wages, and generate $80.6 million in average weekly output. The economic contribution by these sectors has been devastated”, Mr Hawes said.
“I can’t imagine these sectors sustaining extended lockdowns knowing the activity here in the Hunter was already struggling when Sydney first went into restrictions.
“We should heed the pleas of the government and health officials. If people continue to bend the rules, we’re looking at continual shutdowns.
“Any business currently on a knife’s edge will then surely be at risk of closure. What does that look like for employment and business confidence in the future?
“I can understand circumstances where an innocent party contracts COVID through a casual or close contact, however I’m distressed to hear when contaminations occur through a breach.
“When you consider the weight of the economic and health costs, it is arguable the sanctions for breaches are not going far enough - they are clearly not a deterrent for some people.
“We believe every business has the right to ensure people entering their premises are doing so in a compliant fashion and there shouldn’t be any leeway given to breaches.
“We need to look after each other right now. When you think about stepping outside the health orders, think also about your risk of exposure, the risk of the virus spreading, the extra weeks of shutdowns and life interrupted.
Business Hunter is urging the entire community to following the health orders, be patient and persevere, and try to get vaccinated as soon as you can.