Life has certainly changed for us in Parkes after almost three weeks of living under Australia’s toughest Coronavirus lockdown regulations in NSW with heavy fines for breaking these rules.
The Parkes community are coping well with these changes, but there still seems to be confusion about some of the rules and how it applies to rural living compared to being in a city. The Parkes Phoenix asked Parkes Police Officer in Charge, Chief Inspector David Cooper to clarify some of the rules for our readers.
“The community of Parkes has generally been very good with regard to social distancing and isolation,” said the Chief Inspector. “We have had cause to issue a number of infringements to people unwilling to abide by the rules. Those people were only issued tickets after multiple warnings and advice, or they were committing other offences at the time. Police in Parkes are using discretion at all times and infringements are only issued as a last resort.”
“To those people who think the rules don’t apply to them and continue to have ‘gatherings’ – my advice to you is stop. You will be issued infringements if you come under Police notice.”
He asked all residents to “just do the right thing for this relatively short time. Only we can stop the spread of this virus. Complacency has no place in our day to day lives when it comes to COVID-19.”
Our well-being is vital during these times and many residents are using the exemption of being allowed outside for exercise, but are we doing it correctly?
The Chief Inspector said walking or running near your home or within the town limits would be absolutely fine. “If you have to drive to get to your walking point – you probably need to reassess that option unless it is relatively close. Here in Parkes no drive is longer than about 10 minutes so those short drives to get somewhere are fine. Walking the dog with family is a great option.”
Another favourite pastime these days is getting all those DIY jobs done at home. “Driving to the hardware shop to get things for home repairs is fine. Going there to have a browse because you are bored is not a reasonable excuse,” said David.
Finally, the Chief Inspector had one important message for everyone: “Follow the State and Federal Government directions and warnings. Only leave the house if it is essential; if you do leave the house, wash your hands and practice good social distancing measures.”
The following are guidelines from the Government on what you can leave your home for:
• Work, if a person can’t work from home
• School or an educational institution
• Shops for food and other essential items
• Get medical care
• Exercise, but only if the exercise is done alone or with one other person
The police have the power to deliver on-the-spot fines of $1,000 to individuals who breach those rules.The maximum penalty is $11,000 and six months in jail.
You can only be with one other person outside, unless they’re part of your immediate family or are housemates. The same rule applies for having another person over to your house.
If you are inside, there can only be two people gathered in that room, and social distancing must be adhered to.
By Maggi Barnard