Port Macquarie-Hastings leaders reflect as COVID-19 restrictions ease in NSW

Adjusting to the times: Businesses have adapted as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
Adjusting to the times: Businesses have adapted as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

The importance of health, community and the need to adapt are some of the lessons learnt from the coronavirus pandemic, our leaders say.

The Port News gathered the views of community leaders as coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions ease across the state.

But life won't return to normal without a vaccine.

Let's get through this together: mayor

Mayor Peta Pinson said we had learnt there was enough toilet paper and we did not need to hoard anymore.

"We have also learnt that our world as we know it can be disrupted with a virus that can take our life if we are not serious about our own protection but [also] the protection of loved ones and others in our community.

"Without your health you really have very little. No amount of money or things compares to the wellbeing of people."

She said life would be disrupted until a COVID-19 vaccine was found.

Cr Pinson says less hugs is one of the ways the world is different now.

"I think we miss the social interaction so much and the freedom to do all of the things we loved to do," she said.

The mayor said technology had become the centre of our universe and would now continue to play a huge part in our "new normal".

Cr Pinson said we needed to move forward as a community "together".

"We have been through so much as a region with drought, bushfires, water restrictions, flooding, mini-cyclone on the North Shore and now COVID-19.

"Our businesses have struggled and our local economy has taken one of the biggest hits ever seen and yet we have all found a way to get along and support each other.

"Now is not the time to become divided, but rather a time to be proud of the way we have coped. Our region has so much to offer and is a place we love to live, enjoy a chosen lifestyle and show off what makes us who we are to our visiting tourists.

"So let's get through this and to the other side so that together we can all enjoy the new "normal".

Continuing to work together is critical

Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams couldn't be more proud of the way our community has come together during these very difficult times - the mateship, compassion and support that has come to the fore has been both incredible and humbling.

"Of course, negativity in trying circumstances such as these often rears its ugly head but they have been far outweighed by the abundance of acts of kindness that I have heard about and seen every day during the COVID-19 pandemic," she said.

"I think we have all learnt valuable lessons during these challenging times and most evident is that when we work together in a united and supportive way we are stronger and more resilient."

Mrs Williams said people had reassessed the way they lived.

"We are cooking at home more, people have turned off the TV and are talking with each other more and I think we have stopped taking things for granted and I hope this will continue post-pandemic," she said.

"It's likely the some restrictions and the social distancing regime will be a part of everyday life for a while yet and so it is critical that we continue to work together by supporting local businesses, caring for each other and acknowledging how very fortunate we are when compared to those across the world."

Praise for how Australians faced the challenges

Lyne MP Dr David Gillespie said we had learnt we had a strong public health system and Australians had knuckled down and faced the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic very well.

"When you compare us to other nations, we've done really well, not by fluke but by good management."

The Lyne MP praised the efforts of all levels of government as well as businesses, families and industries to gel together to create a safe environment.

"We are looking forward to opening up our economy again in a safe way," Dr Gillespie said.

Dr Gillespie said we had learnt the importance of maintaining sovereign capabilities across critical supply chains of goods and services.

Meanwhile, he said the nature of work had changed considerably.

The emergence of working from home and telehealth are examples of changes due to the coronavirus pandemic.