Business Illawarra has today requested that the NSW Government remove Wollongong local government area (LGA) from Greater Sydney within the Public Health Orders (PHOs), along with the Central Coast and Shellharbour LGAs which are no longer included.
The change was announced together with a permit system for authorised Greater Sydney residents wishing to travel more than 50km into Regional NSW, which will come into effect from 12.01am on Saturday 21 August.
Executive Director of Business Illawarra, Adam Zarth, said local businesses are frustrated and disappointed to learn that, purely on a definitional basis, Wollongong LGA has been retained in the ongoing lockdown of Greater Sydney until the end of September, while the Central Coast and Shellharbour may be released on 28 August as part of regional NSW.
“This new exclusion of the Central Coast and Shellharbour from the definition of Greater Sydney under the PHOs should also include Wollongong, and we are requesting that the government reflect this change as soon as possible,” said Mr Zarth.
“Wollongong LGA has had a consistently lower COVID case load than the Central Coast, most recently reporting 12 cases while there are 31 cases active on the Central Coast, showing that our businesses and residents are playing by the rules. We should not be locked down until the end of September.”
“The Illawarra has also been performing strongly in terms of vaccination rates, with Wollongong LGA (at 24.7%) reporting a higher full vaccination rate than the Central Coast (23.3%) - and we would expect this to continue given the establishment of a vaccination hub in Wollongong CBD.”
“Finally, the Central Coast has a significantly greater commuting workforce that would (under ordinary circumstances) see 44,000 residents travelling into Sydney each day against 26,000 travelling from the Illawarra.”
“Business Illawarra supports the underlying thesis of the new regulation, which is to keep Sydney residents out of regional areas, and argues that Wollongong should be protected in the same way that the Central Coast and Shellharbour are.”
“The Illawarra economy relies upon the free exchange of workforce between local government areas, which will be complicated by the introduction of the permit system on Saturday. Ordinarily, Wollongong provides jobs for 43% of employed residents from Shellharbour and 23% from Kiama, and 5,000 Wollongong residents per day travel to Shellharbour for work each day under normal circumstances.”