Is it time for small towns to take a breath?

The Eurobodalla Shire, from South Durras to south of Narooma, has overwhelmingly supported the lockdown laws.

We have had some breaches - some repeated by the same people - but most residents and holiday home owners saw the sense of the restrictions. They understood that, without even one intensive care bed, the shire simply could not afford to have a rampant outbreak of COVID-19 in our area.

That we have held the numbers to 10 confirmed cases for the entire shire since April 6 shows the measures worked. They would not have worked without the wholehearted support of the community.

All of us have had our working and home lives disrupted. The financial hit to most shire businesses has been immense.

The Higher School Certificate class of COVID-19 means students are working in isolation during the most intense period of their schooling. Despite the challenges, we have prevailed and are continuing to do so.

Without in any way supporting US President Donald Trump's irrational and irresponsible call to protesters to "rise up" and breach restrictions, it is time to begin a measured conversation about how our small shire might begin to breathe again.

The shire was already suffering after the bushfires destroyed the summer tourist trade. The double blow of COVID-19 means our local economy now requires intubation.

Federal stimulus measures are welcome, but do not apply to everyone and even when they do are slow to hit bank accounts.

Our shire's success in holding the line means we would be a very good case for a gradual and intelligent lifting of restrictions.

We say this with an extremely important caveat: no new infections can be brought into the shire. The restrictions on personal travel from areas of higher, uncontrolled infection must be maintained.

Within the shire, however, there is a case for beginning the discussion with doctors and epidemiologists on how we might start to live more freely.

Arguably, our low level of infection warrants a different approach to, say, a densely populated suburb of Western Sydney, with uncontrolled infections.

Getting it wrong would risk tragedy and only extend our pain.

Getting it right would be a showcase for the nation.

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