Today, following advice from Public Heath, we have taken the extremely difficult decision to extend the additional retail business restrictions in place on the North-West Coast for another week, until next Sunday May 3.
This is not a decision taken lightly, because I am acutely aware of the pain and hardship it will impose on local business owners, their employees and on North-West coast residents.
I know that this is a decision which will disappoint many people, but as always, it is better to be safe than to be sorry.
While there are promising signs the North-West coronavirus outbreak is now largely under control, an additional week of restrictions and further testing in the region gives us the best chance of ensuring the outbreak doesn’t flare up again.
I would especially like to thank the thousands of health care workers and their families and households who have quarantined for 14 days to help suppress the virus.
I know many of you would have preferred to have been on the frontline helping, but by staying home, you’ve given us a greater chance to get ahead of this situation and crush this virus. And I thank you.
Our health care workers will come out of the mandatory quarantine period on Sunday, and it has also been confirmed today that all health care workers will be tested before heading back into our hospitals, to make sure risk is being managed.
The extended restrictions mean schools in the North-West will not resume on Tuesday for the first four days of Term 2 next week, with teachers to continue undertaking preparations for term 2 from home, and school sites to remain closed.
In the event students live in the North West, but their school is outside the municipal boundary, they still must stay at home.
Most importantly, for the coming week in the North-West, we are going to seek to turbo-charge our testing regime in the region.
If the virus is anywhere in the North-West community we want to track it down and stamp it out.
So, anyone in the North-West who has even the slightest sniffle or sore throat should call their GP or the Public Health Hotline and ask for a test.
If everyone sticks together, follows the rules, and gets tested where necessary, I am hopeful that we will be able to lift the additional restrictions the following week.
So please everyone, stay home, and save lives.