COVID-19 UPDATE

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Well, another day and this pandemic is increasing rapidly. This morning there were 311 cases in WA, 4,163 in Australia and 18 deaths. Although we have started to flatten the curve, health professionals are saying we need to do more. From 1.30pm (WST) Tuesday, March 24 2020, Western Australia will implement strict border controls for all access points – by road, rail, air and sea.

Beginning at midnight on Tuesday, Mr McGowan said only essential travel would be allowed between regions. All other travel would be restricted between WA’s regions, which include Perth and the country regions of the Kimberley, Pilbara, Gascoyne, Mid West, Wheatbelt, Goldfields-Esperance, South West, Great Southern, and Peel. If you need to know the border points then click here

That means for me, living in the Southwest, I can’t travel to our office in the Great Southern or Peel areas and will be working from home for the foreseeable future.

Southern Dirt however remains open and strict protocols have been enacted for all staff. For those of you hosting trials, please forgive us not doing more than a wave and a phonecall. No handshakes and we will definitely be working a good 3-4 metres away from you. Our staff will be in contact to find out any extra protocols they need to observe on your farm. 

So what else do you need to know? Well, a WA Police Enforcement squad of more than 200 police officer will hit the streets of WA immediately to ensure compliance with quarantine and gathering requirements and to maintain community safety during the State of Emergency in response to COVID-19. They were out in force today in Kojonup and will be ramping up efforts everywhere. The State Government will also bring in $1,000 on-the-spot fines for individuals and $5,000 fines for businesses who disobey the rules. Penalties of up to $50,000 for individuals still apply under the Emergency Management Act, however, the on-the-spot fines will allow WA Police to issue fines immediately, without having to go through the courts.

You can read about the other new measures here https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-the-premier-and-cabinet/covid-19-coronavirus-western-australian-government-response

A new tranche of government stimulus is expected to be announced tomorrow including an upcoming wages package that will be designed to keep employees connected to their employers, as the coronavirus crisis closes businesses and wipes out jobs. This is great news for those in our communities who’s whole lives have been affected. It may be of interest that the Federal Government will also relax restrictions around partner income to make it easier for people out of a job to access welfare.

The expansion of telehealth services will mean anyone who is self-isolating can access health care over the phone or via video conferencing. That includes consultations with GPs, specialists and allied health professionals, so for example, mental health consultations with psychologists, psychiatrists and other specialists are covered. For those especially with mental health issues, this will be a blessing.

Advice around safety has not changed. Washing hands, sanitising often and staying out of contact with others is the first line of defence. I am hearing that our farmers are taking this very seriously and i applaud you for the measures you are taking to keep yourselves and your communities safe. Some of the measures you can take:

  • Make a plan if you haven’t already for managing staff on your property
  • Get your suppliers to drop off without signing and keep your distance. Don’t let them on the property unless you have to.
  • Wipe surfaces that you touch in cars, tractors etc with dettol wipes
  • Have one person (strong and young) pick up all supplies from town and have them disinfect all surfaces on return.

Click here to link to a list of COVID-19 resources we have compiled.

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