By TONY FOSTER
WE are experiencing unprecedented times amid a national emergency that is creating challenges that we’ve never previously had to deal with, perhaps the exception is the two World Wars and the Great Depression.
I don’t want to be alarmist, but we do have to face reality. The COVID-19 pandemic means that travel has been severely curtailed and for many people, even close contact with family and friends has been restricted. We’ve seen panic buying of many staples, even toilet paper and tissues, although we’ve been assured that there are no shortages and Australia has plenty of supplies to meet the community’s need and demand.
A new practice has come into play – social distancing. In terms of dealing with the current emergency, it means that we should stand at least one and a half metres apart and there are no kisses on the cheek, hugging or even shaking hands.
The situation globally has seen the Australian Government virtually close off travel to our country and the State Government has essentially done the same for Tasmania in an effort to, as much as possible, restrict the spread of the coronavirus.
The Brighton Council has done its part. We’ve actioned our Business Continuity Plan and adopted a range of measures designed to protect our employees and the community. Our aim is to ensure Council’s continued operations and the provision of essential local government services to the Brighton Municipality.
Because our systems and technology is cloud-based, our employees can operate remotely, so the business of Council will continue. We’ve established three independent administration offices and if any of these are forced to close, telephones can be diverted and employees can work from home. In fact, Brighton has a well-developed history of staff successfully working remotely or from home, so I am confident the business of Council will continue.
But the situation is rapidly evolving and what applies today, may be changed by tomorrow. We are still learning about how the virus spreads and the disease it causes.
We do know that it can cause a severe respiratory disease that can be spread from person to person. Most people contracting the virus experience mild, flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat and fatigue. Unfortunately, some people experience severe illness and sadly, a small proportion die.
Older people and those with underlying medical conditions appear to be more at risk of severe illness.
At this stage, there is no treatment for the virus, a vaccine is not available and antibiotics do not work. Medical care can treat most of the symptoms, however, this will place enormous strain on our hospitals and health system.
The best advice is to follow the information and advice from the Commonwealth and State health authorities. Please take note of the hotlines in the information sheet on this page. There is considerable comment in the media and, at times, wild speculation on social media, but the safest course is to follow the information put out by the public health authorities.
We’ve all seen the panic buying and hoarding of food and other staples – everything from rice and spaghetti to toilet paper. This is unnecessary and for our community, can particularly impact on the elderly, infirm and those who may not be able to afford to buy more than a few days of supplies.
We’ve been assured that there are no shortages, apart from those created by panic buying and if people remain calm and do their normal shopping, there will be enough for everyone.
Yes, we are in challenging times, but given the enterprise and resilience of our community, we will come through this. Remember, we are all in this together.
I encourage everyone to be patient, consider your friends, families and neighbours and help them where you can. We can come out of this emergency as a stronger and more caring community and while the disruption may be difficult, it will end.
Please follow the recommended health, hygiene, social distancing and travel practices and the directives that are issued from government health authorities from time-to-time.
Hopefully, we can soon look back on this moment as a challenging period, but a time when the Brighton and Tasmanian communities stood together and emerged kinder, more caring, stronger and more resilient.
On behalf of our Council, I extend my very best wishes and good health to all in the Brighton community.