Sunday, September 19, 2021

Penrith calls for end to COVID curfew

Penrith City Mayor, Karen McKeown, has asked NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, to give hope to the residents of the western Sydney municipality, who she says have been left out of the decision-making process around COVID-19 lockdown measures.

Mayor McKeown OAM welcomed the chance to meet with the Premier earlier today, alongside mayors from other affected Sydney LGAs who she says are battling under the state’s harshest of COVID-19 lockdowns.

The long-awaited meeting meant our City could appeal directly to the Premier for what we need on the ground now and into the future to give us hope as we continue to manage the impacts of the current restrictions, she said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic that’s griping our City needs leadership that’s driven from all levels of government. Today’s meeting was a welcome change as it gave us the ability to advocate directly to one of the key decision-makers to affect real change.”

“Being left out of the decision-making process for so long has meant that we’ve been unable to explain to residents and our community why certain suburbs have been deemed areas of concern, especially Orchard Hills that’s only had one case since this second wave started.

“Suburbs need to be reviewed, not in a week or two weeks’ time, this needs to happen now. We need areas that have low or no cases to be relieved of these harsh restrictions,” the Mayor said.

She said residents also need a vaccination hub at the epicentre of the outbreak, in the suburb of St Marys.

“It’s great that we have a vaccination hub at Penrith and Caddens, however, the area of greatest need is still not covered, if we are serious about helping those who are suffering the most, access to a vaccine is an imperative.”

“Our residents need hope, they need the assurance from the State government that their lives will look better, and more positive in the coming weeks and months.

“I asked the Premier directly to make a decision today that could bring some of this hope to our residents. I asked her to end the curfew. It’s not working, it’s causing additional stress to communities who are already doing it tough. I’m asking again, please help them see that their freedoms will return.”

She said a “sense of frustration and anger was brewing” at a local level.

“Residents of western Sydney live in one of the hottest areas of the state, so the images of crowded beaches were insulting to those who were sweltering in their homes under strict restrictions. They want to access pools and other facilities; they want to be able to keep cool as the summer heat rises as well.”

“Most importantly, access to food and other essential items needs better coordination. The fact that some people are going hungry weighs heavy on me and it should on others too. We’re doing what we can at a local level through the Council run hamper hub at North St Marys but we know there are still people missing out,” Mayor McKeown said.

Council launched the Hamper Hub at North St Marys over a week ago after working closely with local community organisations to understand the immediate needs on the ground. Demand has surged since opening, with Council staff delivering food hampers directly into the car boots of those in need.

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