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Freedom for Brewarrina but hard road ahead

Belinda Colless of Muddy Waters Cafe at Brewarrina said there are not enough people coming to Brewarrina to justify opening the doors.Photo supplied

Brewarrina is out of lockdown – and that means there’s good news, and not so good news.

Brewarrina residents will now be able to return to some sort of normal life, with stay-at-home restrictions lifted following a period of no new COVID cases.

The bad news is that it will be some time before businesses can hit their stride again.

With Dubbo, Bourke, Walgett and much of the rest of NSW still in lockdown for at least the next few weeks, businesses that rely on travel will struggle.

Mayor of Brewarrina Shire, Phil O’Connor, is also anxious that people from lockdown areas like Dubbo and Bourke will defy public health orders and visit Brewarrina, putting the community at risk.

“It’s great news for our shire but I was concerned when it did open up about people coming here from places in lockdown,” he said.

“I have seen and heard that there are people from Bourke and Dubbo here in our town, that just shouldn’t be here.”

While Brewarrina enjoys the first days of freedom, Bourke continues to have high weekly case numbers and is unlikely to be out of lockdown early.

Bourke Shire Council General Manager, Mark Riley, said the Bourke Shire community would need a higher than 90 per cent vaccination rate to be safe from rising transmission.

“We were travelling very well with zero cases, but last Thursday we had two, last Friday there were ten, Saturday we had six new cases and on Sunday we had five,” Mr Riley said.

“We are over 20 active cases again and it shows just how volatile COVID is.

“I said when we had zero case numbers it would take one event and we’d be back there again,” Mr Riley said.

Mr Riley said locals had plenty of opportunities to get tested and vaccinated.

“We have to be so cautious, and we are still under stay-at-home orders. We have surveillance testing at Davidson Oval every day from 9am-3pm and I encourage people to use that service.

“We all need to get vaccinated or there won’t be a lifting of restrictions, and I urge people not to get misinformation from Facebook about vaccines but talk to the health professionals or a doctor.

“We need to push vaccination rates well past 90 per cent, because we have 2500 people in the Shire and if ten per cent are not vaccinated that equates to 250 people, so potentially there is still a high risk of COVID cases in Bourke,” Mr Riley said.

It is likely that Bourke businesses will remain in lockdown until COVID is suppressed in the community.

Read more local news in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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