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Shooters MP Roy Butler says regional NSW needs to stay open as cases continue to rise in Sydney

ABC Health logo ABC Health 30/07/2020 By Jen McCutcheon
a close up of a sign: An MP says regional NSW wants to remain open, even if greater Sydney is shut down. (Supplied: Rod Muller) © Provided by ABC Health An MP says regional NSW wants to remain open, even if greater Sydney is shut down. (Supplied: Rod Muller)

A New South Wales Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MP is calling for regional areas to stay open as more pandemic hotspots are declared across greater Sydney.

"We've seen businesses really suffer on the back of the drought, and then the first lockdown," said Roy Butler, the member for the western NSW electorate of Barwon.

"In our communities out west, while we wouldn't necessarily have the tourists coming through, at least locals would be able to follow the public health guidelines and businesses would be able to keep trading with their local community.

"People don't want to see state lockdowns when there's no evidence the virus is in our local communities."

Mr Butler has met with NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and said if cases in greater Sydney grow then non-essential travel should be restricted there, but regional NSW should be able to stay open.

"If we are going to see restrictions, those restrictions should be localised to places where we have cases," Mr Butler said.

Health authorities in NSW have confirmed 18 new coronavirus infections in the 24 hours to 8:00pm yesterday.

There have been no active cases of COVID-19 in western NSW since May.

"I've been concerned for months, if we have an outbreak in our communities, we simply don't have the level of healthcare for people to stay in their communities," Mr Butler said.

"The advice from the Premier is to not have any non-essential travel.

"But I think if numbers keep going up we'll see it go from being advice to a health order."

Earlier this month, Premier Gladys Berejiklian sought to reassure the state that another lockdown would not happen.

"Every time we have an outbreak we can't afford to lockdown, reopen, lockdown, reopen," she said.

"That is no way to live and that is no way to be able to instil confidence to businesses to keep employing people."

Mr Butler will meet with the Premier next week to discuss the impact of another lockdown in regional NSW.

Businesses 'won't survive another lockdown'

Mudgee Chamber of Commerce vice president Greg Dowker has run a motel in Mudgee for more than three decades.

He said the coronavirus lockdown saw his business fall to record lows.

"I have 64 units. When we had the shutdown I was letting 2-4 units per night. It was the worst its ever been," he said.

He said that quickly turned around in the July school holidays just gone.

"We were booked solid for those two weeks and even helping people find accommodation elsewhere," Mr Dowker said.

He said another lockdown would be crippling for regional NSW.

"We need the regions to stay open we need businesses to be ticking over," he said.

His establishment is still welcoming visitors from Sydney, for now.

"Sydney is a big market for us. As people book in we have a list of the hotspots and ask the questions and see what they've have been doing," Mr Dowker said.

"At the end of the day it's all about personal responsibly."

Mr Dowker said if greater Sydney was put into lockdown, occupancy at his hotel would drop by more than half.

"It depends what line they draw from Sydney, we do get a lot of people from the western suburbs and Blue Mountains," he said.

"It's a bit tricky off the top of my head, but I'd say we'd drop to 30-40 per cent [occupancy]."


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