Hunter Businesses Feel Lockdown Pinch

The announcement of a 7 day lockdown extension on Thursday means businesses across the Hunter will continue to feel the pinch, and the region’s peak business body says we can’t afford to sit by as people flout Covid-19 Restrictions.

Business Hunter has urged business owners and site managers to enforce strict QR code check-in and mask-wearing requirements in offices and on worksites, as well as to monitor people coming and going on their premises to make sure anyone present is allowed to be there.

Bob Hawes, CEO of Business Hunter believes Covid’s Delta variant is a game changer, which cannot be allowed to continue spreading in the region.

He says jobs and the economy have already taken a hit, and one of the biggest employers in the Hunter has already had a close call.

“Tomago Aluminium Smelter had some close and casual contacts identified within their employees. That’s a worry”.

Mr Hawes has raised concern that if the local cluster continues to grow it’s likely to force major industries into a shut down and cause further damage to the local economy.

“We don’t want to see some of those big industries that to date have not been impacted feeling the pinch,” he said.

Police operations to enforce the public health orders in the region have already ramped up, with officers in the Port Stephens-Hunter area dishing out 59 personal infringement notices and 67 charges in the last week.

District Commander Detective Superintendent Chad Gillies says the vast majority of people are doing the right thing.

“But there is still a worrying element who are not complying or are travelling through our area,” Commander Gillies said.

Business Hunter is urging the NSW Government to increase the compliance enforcement presence in the region.

“We’re still getting infiltration into the region, that is really frustrating,” CEO Bob Hawes said.

“I support the suggestion that the NSW Police be supported with boots on the ground by the Australian Defence Force”.

“The Hunter needs to be one of the priority regions for these compliance enforcement resources, before things get more out of hand”.

“It will be interesting to see what measures the police put in place with the ADF at crisis cabinet meetings this afternoon and what we end up with in the coming weeks to help combat it”.