Pleas post bushfires for people to visit rural and regional areas have become cries of “stay away” as those considering a holiday escape are urged to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I have had a number of concerning calls and emails from constituents, who say people are ignoring the advice and still holidaying in our towns including Jindabyne and Thredbo,” said NSW Member for Monaro John Barilaro.
“This tough time is not an opportunity for a holiday, or an opportunity to work remotely from a holiday destination.”
This is a view shared by Federal Agricultural Minister David Littleproud, who likened caravans to “cruise ships of the outback” in an interview on Radio National Breakfast on 1 April.
“They’ve got to appreciate that there are finite resources – health resources – in these small communities. And they’re not just putting themselves at risk; they’re actually putting these little communities at risk,” Mr Littleproud said.
The plea comes ahead of the Easter long weekend and the ski season, which is the busiest holiday time of the year for many communities in the Monaro.
“Unfortunately we are going to miss out on much-needed tourism dollars, but now is not the time to be encouraging people to the region, and any business that does so is putting the health of their community at risk,” Mr Barilaro said.
Those who opt to ignore the ‘stay at home’ message could face hefty fines under the NSW Public Health Order. In the case of an individual, the maximum penalty is $11,000, or imprisonment for six months. NSW Police also have the power to issue on-the-spot fines of $1,000 for an offence.
While the ACT Government acknowledged the need for people to keep in contact with friends and loved ones, their advice is to stay, and holiday at home as much as possible.
An ACT Government spokesperson said the only reasons people should be leaving their homes are for essential purposes like going to see a doctor or pharmacist, to buy necessary supplies, for exercise, or for work where you can’t work from home.
“Businesses such as tourism and hotel operators are aware of their obligations to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Access Canberra is continuing to support local businesses to inform them of their responsibilities and offer assistance where they can,” the spokesperson said.
People can support Canberra tourism remotely by discovering what’s inside Canberra’s top attractions with an online tour, video, blog article or podcasts instead. Additionally, Canberrans can holiday at home this Easter and support local food operators through initiatives such as feedfeed.com.au, cbrstillopen.com and canberraeats.com