It's the tale of two council areas as Upper Lachlan Shire enjoys new found freedom but Goulburn Mulwaree remains in lockdown.
The constant interaction between the two has left some confused about the COVID restrictions that apply.
"We do enjoy the benefits of not being in lockdown but we're joined at the hip with Goulburn Mulwaree," the Shire's mayor, John Stafford said.
"There is so much interaction with Goulburn that it's really difficult for people to get their head around the rules...They are concerned about their ability to comply when they're so close to Goulburn."
Upper Lachlan is free of COVID but Goulburn Mulwaree has had seven cases since June, according to NSW Health. One of these occurred out of the area. Three of these cases were announced on Friday and were related to known contacts.
Under NSW Health rules, Upper Lachlan Shire residents entering Goulburn Mulwaree must have a 'reasonable excuse' to do so. On their return, they must abide by the stay-at-home restrictions for 14 days that apply to Goulburn Mulwaree. It takes effect from the day of their return.
The reasonable excuses include: leaving home for work and education if you are unable to do so from home; for medical appointments, including vaccination; attending an interview or assessment for work that cannot be done from home; and transporting a member of your household who is authorised to leave because they have a reasonable excuse.
The full list of reasons is available at this link.
But Goulburn MP Wendy Tuckerman's office has been bombarded with questions from people with unique problems. A person who lives in Big Hill, within Upper Lachlan, for example, generally crosses into Goulburn Mulwaree for grocery shopping. Their most direct route to Crookwell is closed.
Collector people also generally travelled to Goulburn for groceries and did not have deliveries to the area.
Some said it would have been easier to leave Upper Lachlan under stay-at home regulations, given the differences.
The same situation applies in the Central West where Orange, currently under stay-at-home orders, is surrounded by council areas that aren't. Given the interaction between the regions, MP Phil Donato has called for greater clarity.
He wants either Orange to be lifted out of lockdown or dispensations granted to Cabonne and Blayney residents so they don't have abide by stay-at-home orders, the Central Western Daily reports.
Local Government NSW president Linda Scott said Mr Barilaro gave this undertaking in the "robust" on-line meeting that also covered vaccination rates.
Cr Stafford agreed that larger areas like Orange and Goulburn should be more involved.
"It would be nice to know that you are somehow involved in the process but I also appreciate what a tough task the state government has and the pressures that are on it," he said.
Cr Stafford argued the government had to look at every LGA in its own right and just because one was free of COVID didn't mean "a clean sheet" for another.
Despite the differences between the council areas, he said Upper Lachlan residents remained very careful and were not leaving the area unless absolutely necessary.
While businesses could technically re-open, some had not due to decisions around viability. Grand Ettie's cafe at Taralga, for example, remained closed. The Argyle Inn was only open for takeaway and bookings on a Saturday night. Cr Stafford's own wildlife park is shut.
"There is also some uncertainty around when everyone is fully vaccinated, how business will manage and enforce that process," he said.
Nevertheless, Cr Stafford told The Post that Crookwell remained busy and people were enjoying their "new found freedom." While some surrounding areas remained in lockdown, Upper Lachlan residents could still travel freely to Oberon Shire.
Meantime, Goulburn Mulwaree Mayor Bob Kirk said he didn't disagree larger centres should have greater say in the restrictions.
"But that hasn't happened and probably won't because we don't have that level of consultation with NSW Health," he said.
"...We have very similar interaction with Upper Lachlan that Orange has with its region but who's to say that they (authorities) didn't consider that? There are too many ifs, buts and maybes."
Along with Goulburn MP Wendy Tuckerman, he has urged people to get vaccinated either with the "plentiful" AstraZeneca or Pfizer.
Goulburn Mulwaree's full vaccination rate stands at 39.8 per cent and Upper Lachlan's - 44.1pc.
"It is clear to me that the majority of our community want to be vaccinated - supply and access is what is hindering us," the MP posted on social media.
On Friday, Mrs Tuckerman approached Mr Barilaro, Health Minister Brad Hazzard and the Southern NSW Local Health District about securing more Pfizer vaccines.
She is also lobbying for more walk-in vaccination clinics across the electorate.
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