Let's keep it safe, says tourism business operator

Di and Barry OConnor of Tenterfield Lodge and Caravan Park don't want to see COVID-19 come to Tenterfield through lax controls at accommodation businesses.
Di and Barry OConnor of Tenterfield Lodge and Caravan Park don't want to see COVID-19 come to Tenterfield through lax controls at accommodation businesses.

Tourist accommodation is not a suitable place for those travelling from COVID-19 hotspots to see out their 14-day quarantine, Barry O'Connor of Tenterfield Lodge and Caravan Park said, but he's been amazed by those who seem to think otherwise.

Mr O'Connor said he and wife Di have strict COVID-19 precautions in place, to protect themselves, other park guests and the wider community. These practices are all in line with directions from the NSW Government but the couple is concerned that other accommodation houses are disregarding the requirements, and putting the community at risk.

"We see people that we've knocked back still around town," Mr O'Connor said.

He said travellers who should self-quarantine aren't going to be sitting it out in their caravans or staying put in their motel rooms, making Tenterfield's ageing population vulnerable.

"This is serious stuff. That's what the 167 people (at time of writing) who have died of the virus would say if they could.

"We're not going to be the park that brings coronavirus here. If it does get here, who's going to take responsibility for that?

"It is harsh but we're just following the rules put down by the NSW Government and the Caravan Industry of Australia."

The NSW Government states that those required to self-isolate must go directly to their place of residence or another suitable place to stay and take all reasonable steps to minimise contact with other people, or travel directly out of NSW by air, road or rail.

When the NSW border closed to Victoria on July 8 Mrs O'Connor contacted all Victorians with bookings for the following two weeks and arranged refunds. Since then only travellers who could prove that they hadn't been in a hotspot in the previous 14 days, ideally with receipts, have been allowed to enter the premises.

Some arrivals come prepared, receipts in hand.

Those who couldn't meet the requirements have been turned away. The O'Connors said they've received a lot of abuse as a result, but this has been balanced somewhat by feedback from other guests who said they felt reassured on the safety of their environment.

Mr O'Connor said the situation has eased a little now that the 14-day period since the border closure has expired, meaning in theory that any Victorians now arriving should already have been outside their home state for at least a fortnight.

Still the list of hotspots continues to grow and Mr O'Connor does a check each morning to see which areas are currently on the list.

Much like the Queensland border declaration, arrivees complete a form stating the reason for their travel, that they are currently well and haven't to their knowledge been exposed to the virus. They also provide details of locations visited for the past 14 days and their next stop, for contact tracing purposes.

Mr O'Connor wants to see the town have a designated COVID-19 expert to oversee that information is disseminated and rules are being followed. He feels that council should be responsible but said he's been informed it's outside their jurisdiction.

While borders are the obvious point at which to restrict movement of the virus, Mr O'Connor feels that COVID-19 has to be fought on a country-wide basis, not just state by state.

"We're not Victorians or Queenslanders or New South Welshmen. We're Australians," he said.

"Hats off to Gladdy (NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian) and ScoMo (Prime Minister Scott Morrison). I think they've done a fantastic job."