By Steve Cuff

LIFE now is so different as we once knew it, and this April the Easter and school holiday period will be a shining example of that change.

In what is normally a huge bustling holiday time here in the Snowy Mountains, in 2020 it will be as quiet as a mouse. All events have been cancelled; the majority of holiday bookings have been cancelled as the Government have enacted strict non-essential travel rules plus the added two person gathering rule as a deterrent of social gathering.

Reputable real estate agents have been advising guests to not visit, plus not taking any bookings for this time, a good portion of the lodges and hotels are closed, and for the main accommodation venues that are still open, they mostly have workers staying with very low occupancy rates.

This is all very understandable and hardly surprising as the nation and the world try to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

We all need to do our part in negating the spread of the virus and travelling plus travellers have proven to be the main cause for spreading the virus further.

Campgrounds and caravan parks are closed and with the restrictions of pubs, cafes and restaurants allowed only to offer take away, a holiday would have hardly been the same anyway. For the kids, all playgrounds and skate parks are closed as the government try and restrict all social contact.

Local Snowy Monaro member and NSW Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, who is normally a staunch tourism advocate for regional NSW issued a stern warning that now is not the time to travel.

Mr Barilaro said that he was concerned that with Easter looming that city residents may travel to regional NSW to escape quarantine which would be extremely dangerous for country communities.

“Our regional communities do value the economic stimulus brought about by tourism dollars, however the message could not be clearer, now is the time to stay away,” said Mr Barilaro.

“I am asking you, the people of NSW, to immediately cut all non-essential travel to the regions until we are able to stop the spread of the virus.”

As much as it pains all of us in the tourism industry to say it, we agree now is not the time to visit. Even though it is hurting all regions economically, especially after the January bushfires also restricted tourism, we all just need to endure this pain until the virus is under control.

Each small region has limited capacity when it comes to medical services and with the predicted rise in virus cases, why would you want to be so selfish as to travel and potentially put others at risk.

We already have cases of COVID-19 here in the Snowy Mountains region, and we don’t need anymore.

Jindabyne’s Lake Light Sculpture is cancelled.

Snowy Monaro Regional Council Mayor Peter Beer also joined the campaign calling on people to follow the advice from health professionals and avoid all non-essential travel.

“While I appreciate people are looking to leave metropolitan areas and help support regional communities during these uncertain times, the best way you can help the Snowy Monaro region and yourselves is by staying home,” Mayor Beer said.

“We know our economy relies significantly on visitors, but now, we need to prioritise our community’s health.

“Additional people in the Snowy Monaro are only putting our permanent residents at risk and increasing the burden on our already stretched resources.

“While many properties in the Snowy Monaro are owned by investors from outside the area, and I appreciate their right to visit these properties, I urge them to stay at their normal place of residency.

“The Snowy Monaro will always be here for you to enjoy. Now is definitely not that time. When the time is right we will be doing everything we can to welcome visitors back to the Snowy Monaro but until this crisis is over, please stay at home.

“The 2016 Census revealed there were 3872 people living in our region over the age of 65. These residents are at increased risk of COVID-19. Please help them by following the state and federal government’s health warnings to stay home.”

The popular Thredbo Easter Egg Hunt is cancelled.

The government have indicated this pandemic fight could be upwards of six months, which does not bode well for our winter snow season here either.

To have any hope of the snow season eventuating in even a limited capacity we need the virus to subside substantially and flatten that curve.

Showing restraint now for April holidays will go a long way to helping the future.

Please stay at your home of residence for the good of all communities.