Parkes, Forbes being considered to come out of COVID lockdown

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the crisis committee would consider towns coming out of lockdown each week based on whether they'd been 14 days without a new COVID case.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the crisis committee would consider towns coming out of lockdown each week based on whether they'd been 14 days without a new COVID case.


Parkes and Forbes shires are being considered to come out of lockdown.

Dubbo MP Dugald Saunders has confirmed Parkes, Forbes and Bogan shires were among those that could be considered to have stay-at-home orders lifted this week.

Speaking at the Western NSW COVID update at midday Wednesday, he did add a note of caution that a lot can change in 12 to 24 hours.


Monday marked two weeks since Parkes' last identified case of COVID-19, and Thursday will mark two weeks since Forbes' last case.

With some regional areas now out of lockdown, those dates suddenly matter.

So what do we know about our chance of having stay-at-home orders lifted?

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said last week that every local government area would be considered when the State Government's crisis committee meets every Wednesday - and the number one criteria would be going 14 days without a new case in the community.

That includes looking at the date of the last community exposure site, which for Forbes was on September 1.

Parkes exposure sites have now been removed from the NSW Health website as they are more than two weeks ago.

"Every council will every week be reviewed, there is an opportunity to come out based on the last exposure in the community and that will be our approach going forward," Mr Barilaro said.

Dubbo MP Dugald Saunders has since explained a little more to media at the Western NSW Local Health District press conferences.

"Cabinet meets and takes on board all of the health advice and there are representatives like the Deputy Premier who are there to provide on-the-ground advice from other people that maybe can help to make the decision," he said.

But he's added that that meeting of minds won't occur every day to cover every community as they hit the 14-day mark.

"For health officials they want a bit of clarity around a two-week non-infectious period where there are no cases," he said.

"Yes it will end up not always being exactly 14 days but it's a good starting point and it means that all the eyes that need to look at this will be in the same room - or on the same zoom call - looking at that when it comes time to make the call going forward.

"It is difficult, I know, we may end up being 19 days, or 17 days, without a case but that will all be looked at ... the overall scheme of things is about making sure communities are well clear of possible cases."


Mr Barilaro said stay-at-home orders would be imposed again immediately if there was a positive case in a local government area.

"We know with Delta, and we're seeing it in some parts of the state, from one case it becomes double digit figures," he said.

"We have to have that ability to lock down.

"The message has been clear from many of ... the communities themselves that they accept that and they understand that if there is a case.

"That is a fair, balanced approach in making sure that we protect communities."

He added that high levels of sewage detections and exposure locations in a community without a known case would also be cause for concern.

Towns including Cowra, Condobolin and Grenfell all had stay-at-home orders lifted on Saturday, although they remain under significant public health order restrictions, as they've so far remained clear of the pandemic virus.

They've been reminded, however, that if they visit a lockdown area such as Forbes, Parkes, or Canowindra then individuals then come back under stay-at-home orders for the next 14 days.

"Don't travel into areas that are locked down if you don't need to and if you do, those stay-at-home orders apply to you for 14 days," Mr Barilaro said.