Parks now closed for all but ‘essential services’ | The Northern Daily Leader


coronavirus, dams, open, easter, virus, copetan, keepit

Numbers were looking promising for Copeton Dam and Lake Keepit over Easter with people already flocking to the water oases to isolate in peace. But with holiday makers and non-essential travel banned as of midnight Thursday, their hopes of getting back on track after the extended drought and fires have been dashed. Criticism has been swift following the order on Thursday, with the Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA) calling for a review of sweeping orders. They say it will see the shut down of self-contained cabin accommodation ideally suited for the management of the spread of COVID-19. The Copeton Dam and Lake Keepit parks will remain open for those providing ‘essential services’. Reflections Holiday Parks in Copeton Dam manager Paul Irwin said their park has no permanent residents, and is now closed to visitors and holiday makers until given the word ‘go’. “We were seeing an increase in the number of people coming here, and the Easter numbers were looking really good,” Mr Irwin explained. “With the water levels rising, we had more recreational boaters and fishers coming, and there were less hazards in the water too.” Reflections Holiday Parks CEO Steve Edmonds said park teams were working around the clock to ensure compliance with Government and industry direction. “Nothing is more important than beating this virus and keeping people safe,” Mr Edmonds said. With precautions taken last weekend, parks had already closed some amenity blocks to have the resources to clean more frequently and sanitize other touch-points. In a lighter aspect of the people-ban, Mr Irwin said the resident deer, goat, kangaroo and emu populations are set to enjoy their Easter holidays with a bit of peace and quiet. “The emus were just starting to come back from the drought, and the deer were scarce too, but now the people are scarce and I’m sure they will come back.” Read also: The NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard confirmed these new measures on Thursday. The order was made under the Public Health Act 2010 which bans mass gatherings, places restrictions on other gatherings and requires the closure of caravan parks and camping grounds. Mr Hazzard stated caravan parks and camping grounds must not be open to members of the public except for permanent residents of the caravan park or camping ground, and other people who have no other place of permanent residence, and allowing visitors to visit these people. Travellers already in the park with no other permanent residence will be allowed to stay. “If you need a place to stay safe during these unfolding challenging times, please feel welcome at Reflections Holiday Parks,” Mr Edmonds said. Reflections is actively monitoring Covid-19 updates from the Australian Government Department of Health and will keep communities, guests and media updated via its website and Facebook. Stuart Lamont, CEO of Caravan Industry Association of Australia explains that caravan parks located in most rural and regional centres provide “valuable and appropriate” accommodation options for essential workers. He says they are being unnecessarily shut down, costing jobs and livelihoods. “Unlike hotels and motels which in some jurisdictions have been allowed to continue operating, there are no shared hallways or elevators. Caravan parks are generally spacious gated communities within nature, where you can park directly alongside your cabin – they are ideal for self-isolation,” Mr Lamont said. “Caravan Industry Association of Australia is appealing to Governments to provide clarification that self-contained accommodation within caravan parks be permissible within current restrictions. “For tens of dozens of tourism operators, this determination will be the difference between weathering this storm and being forced to close their business permanently.” There are estimated to be 13,500 cabins in NSW parks, 7,500 cabins in VIC parks and 750 cabins in Tasmanian parks, all of which will be de-commissioned as a result of the new rules. Sign up to receive The Leader’s breaking news and top stories straight to your inbox.

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