It might feel like house arrest but it's worth it

Every day we see new rules about social distancing and every day the restrictions get tougher. The days when we were allowed to gather in clubs and pubs and out in the open, the days when the prime minister himself said it was still OK to go to the footy, seem an eternity away.

They weren't.

In just three weeks we have seen an incredible shift in what is permissible and what is not.

Now, the biggest group allowed out in the open consists of two people. We have been told to stay at home unless there is a reasonable excuse to be out. These include having to work (many of us are now doing this from home), go shopping for provisions, get some exercise, see a doctor and continue education when it's not possible to do so remotely. The days of having friends over a few drinks and a barbie? They're over.

Frivolous trips can now be punished in NSW with an $11,000 fine and or jail time. We have moved into almost total lockdown.

The resistance to this form of house arrest appears to have dwindled as the full horror of COVID-19's toll on other countries which were to slow to respond is revealed.

We're no longer seeing the hordes of people on city beaches but, disturbingly, some surf breaks are still crowded. The waves off Newcastle on Monday were still way too packed so it's clear some die-hard surfers are yet to get the message. Their thinking seems to be that they're okay in the water. What they're not realising is getting to the beach, refuelling, generally being out and about is adding to everyone's risk.

This is why we don't want them here during the Easter holiday. And that's a message that's been taken up by our political representatives the length of the South Coast. Of particular concern are owners of holiday houses who have accepted bookings and not cancelled them. Perhaps this should be the next area on which some kind of sanction in the form of fines should apply.

Short of rolling out razor wire and barriers on all roads leading to the South Coast, it won't be possible to stop every selfish holiday-maker. For those of us who live here, that's even more reason to restrict our own movements as much as possible. The less contact we have with city people - or surfaces they may have touched - the better. And just to be safer still, we should all wash our hands after every trip outside.

It's tough but the alternative - look at Italy - is so much worse.