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Adam Marshall’s COVID-19 update week ending Friday, May 22

The Northern Tablelands is teetering on the edge of being COVID-19 free, with only one active case remaining, in Armidale.

That case is expected to move into the recovered category in the coming days, and fingers crossed with no new cases, we will achieve that magic number of zero.

We have seen a steady stream of people this week taking advantage of the drive-through testing clinics at Inverell and Glen Innes Hospitals, with more than 150 people screened in Inverell and close to 100 at Glen Innes.

Hunter New England Health HNEH will continue these clinics for another week. The clinics operate Monday to Friday between the hours 1pm and 3pm. Those looking to be tested must book an appointment in advance by phoning the Inverell clinic on 6721 9520 and Glen Innes clinic on 0438 925 949, between 8am and 4.30pm.

It is clear from the chilly conditions today that winter and the sniffles are only just around the corner. The health advice is that no matter how mild your symptoms, be they a slight sore throat, cough or shortness of breath, you should be tested. Please don’t be complacent and disregard these signs as simply a cold or flu.

People living in communities without drive-through screening services can still be tested for coronavirus by contacting their GP or local hospital.

The Premier has made three important announcements this week relating to further easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

The first is that from Monday 1 June, intra-state travel restrictions will be lifted to permit holidaying within NSW.

NSW citizens will be able to take recreational trips across the State, as long as they maintain social distancing and good hygiene. This means some caravan parks and camping grounds will re-open, however it will be up to the individual operator if they choose to open their doors – travellers should phone ahead to confirm any bookings.

As part of this change NSW will also be welcoming travellers form inter-state. While our borders are open, travellers must still follow the rules of their home state on their return.

I must stress to everyone that, while we want people to enjoy a well-earned holiday, we must do this responsibly and continue to abide by physical distancing measures. The last thing any of us want is a second wave of cases, which will force the Government to reintroduce restrictions.

Based on our current infection rates and level of testing, I am confident our health services are in a position to deal with any increase in coronavirus cases, should they occur.

The second announcement was from next Monday (25 May) students from Kindergarten to Year 12 will be returning to the classroom full-time for 5 days a week.

While this has caused some concern for parents I want to reassure everyone steps have been taken to ensure students, teachers, support staff and parents are safe being back in this environment.

Additional cleaning of facilities will be undertaken while those on school grounds will have access to hygiene supplies and be monitored to ensure they are practicing good hygiene.

The third announcement was that, also from 1 June, pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes in NSW will be able to cater for up to 50 patrons, subject to a one person per four square metre rule and with strict social distancing guidelines.

Despite what some in the community might say, none of these decisions has been made lightly or without advice from leading medical experts. Our current rate of infection shows the way this pandemic is being managed is working and now it falls on all of us to continue adhering to social distancing measures to ensure that continues.

Until next time stay warm and stay safe.

Adam.