COVID-19: A message from commissioner Riebeling

North West Telegraph
Town of Port Hedland commissioner Fred Riebeling, who was presented with a companion of the Order of Australia medal recently.
Camera IconTown of Port Hedland commissioner Fred Riebeling, who was presented with a companion of the Order of Australia medal recently.

As I’m sure you’re aware, the COVID-19 situation is evolving rapidly across the country.

On Sunday night, the Prime Minister outlined how pubs, restaurants, cafes and more will be shut for the foreseeable future.

This is an unprecedented situation, however the Prime Minister stated that it is necessary to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

Further to this, Premier Mark McGowan announced the closure of WA’s borders to all forms of transportation, save for a select few exceptions.

At the time of writing this, we haven’t had any recorded cases of COVID-19 in Hedland or the Pilbara, however this could very well change.

In a number of ways, we are lucky to be in a remote area where we can quite easily follow the principles of social distancing.

It’s been quite remarkable how something which started out in a small provincial Chinese area has spread to all corners of the globe, impacting every facet of modern society.

Once bustling metropolitan cities and shopping centres are now ghost towns, and most of the world’s aviation services have stopped.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to outline how we’re supporting business and the importance of individual behaviour.

The unfortunate reality is that as much as COVID-19 is a public health emergency, it’s also an economic emergency – we knew this with the announcement of $189 billion worth of Federal Government stimulus, the biggest amount of federal stimulus in Australia’s history.

The situation is worse than the recession of 2008/9, since this time it’s a complete shut down for many businesses during this time, not just a slow-down.

Small businesses are laying off thousands of workers across the country, with some people accessing the safety net for the first time.

The Town will try to identify opportunities for our contractors to access work during this time, even with the cancellation of all events.

Like the cyclones, it’s important for Hedlanders to work together to get through this difficult time.

I’d like to also reiterate what the Prime Minister said on Sunday night: social distancing is our greatest weapon in fighting COVID-19.

If people remain in their own 4 square metre area, there is a far less likelihood of transmission.

I understand that we’re a social community, however it’s really important that we take social distancing seriously – it is now a directive, not just advice.

Clearly washing hands, covering sneezes and staying home when unwell are also imperative, but it’s the social distancing principle which will be perhaps our greatest challenge.

I implore everyone to continue following the advice of the Department of Health in relation to exercising hygienic behaviour.

Although you may be fit and healthy, if you become infected by COVID-19, you could transmit the virus to a vulnerable member of our community.

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