COVID-19 Update Status of Re-opening of Island

As many of you will be aware, a request to re-open Lord Howe Island through a repeal of the current Public Health Order followed a resolution by the Lord Howe Island Board at its meeting of 8 September 2020. In a previous Householder dated 11 September, I advised that further information would be provides as soon as news regarding the request was received.

At this stage, a decision to repeal has not been made and discussions with NSW Health suggest that if it is to be repealed it is unlikely to be dated from 25 September as requested.

Despite efforts, a number of matters including NSW Health being satisfied with arrangements and Parliamentary Counsel finalising possible changes to relevant Public Health Orders are unlikely to be achieved before 25 September.

At this stage a reopening date is not able to be confirmed, and similarly, confirmation of a decision by the Minister for Health and Medical research remains uncertain. Every effort is being made with NSW Health to identify a target date to allow businesses and individual to plan and take actions to bring staff, stock and be ready for operating in a COVID Safe manner.

As soon as a target date is confirmed it will be communicated with the community.

To facilitate re-opening and to minimise risk, a COVID-19 Reopening Recovery Plan and a COVID-19 Operation Plan for Lord Howe Island have been developed in consultation with NSW Health. These are being implemented to prepare for reopening and to manage local arrangements for residents and visitors following opening. The Plans and their actions are wide ranging and are an important tool in moving forward safely.

It is understood that the COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely challenging for all. Reopening the island will also create pressures and responsibilities for businesses, residents and visitors. It is very important that we all do our best to support each other and to be responsible in regard to social distancing, hygiene, and other measures meant to keep the island and broader Australian community as safe as possible.

If you are struggling, please reach out. This pandemic has and continues to affect us all. It is not easy. Resources are available and welfare teams are continuing to look out for those who may feel vulnerable or are under pressure. Further details will be provided to help you know where to seek help if needed.

Finally, I want to acknowledge all those who have worked so hard and those who have helped each other. Thank you on behalf of all for the enormous effort many of you have made. We still have a way to go but it is important to express appreciation for your efforts so far.