Please don't go back'o'Bourke, mayor pleads

Stay away from Bourke to Bermagui - but come back later !

Coronavirus
Bourke's big Easter festival this weekend has been cancelled, but if you scroll down you can see what great fun it was last year. Town mayors are pleading with people not to visit them to stop the spread of coronavirus. Photo by Janian McMillan

Bourke's big Easter festival this weekend has been cancelled, but if you scroll down you can see what great fun it was last year. Town mayors are pleading with people not to visit them to stop the spread of coronavirus. Photo by Janian McMillan

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Towns on front foot to stop Easter travellers visiting

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It'll be the quietest Easter in NSW since World War 2 as people are told and pleaded with not to travel to regional areas to stop the spread of coronavirus.

From Bourke to Bathurst to Bermagui, the message has been pushed out by mayors and MPs for people to stay at home.

Even boatramps will be patrolled to make sure people are not congregating, and police will be using licence plate identification to check people are not travelling out of their area without a reasonable excuse - such as for essential travel to visit a needy relative. Fines over $1000 can be issued if the Public Health Order is contravened.

(A Victorian-based Federal Nationals Minister, Darren Chester, who had gone to Canberra to help pass the $130billion wage subsidy package through Parliament, was pulled over by highway police while driving near Cooma on his way home on Thursday morning. He was asked why he was on the road. He had a reasonable excuse as he was returning home from work and not fined.)

And now even supermarkets are checking IDs to make sure you live locally to buy there. There were several reports of this in the Illawarra.

Many country Easter festivals have been cancelled and one of the big outback cancellations is the Easter fair and races at Bourke that attracts thousands.

Bourke shire Mayor Barry Holman urged people to stay away - but come back later in the year.

"As Easter approaches, residents of Bourke, who may have previously looked to travel away or perhaps host visitors over the holiday period, are requested to urgently reconsider their plans," Mr Holman said.

"Easter is traditionally a festive period in Bourke. Easter 2020 needs to be a very different story. To contain the spread of COVID 19, not just in our own communities but within broader Australia, residents need to STAY AT HOME OVER THE EASTER PERIOD AND ADVISE POTENTIAL VISITORS TO BOURKE TO RESCHEDULE THEIR VISIT TO A DATE MUCH LATER IN THE YEAR (the Mayor's capitals).

"Situations such as what we currently face with the COVID-19 Pandemic require each and every one of us to make an individual contribution.

"The reduction of the spread of the virus will take a whole of community effort.

"Resist potential travel or hosting visitors this Easter in Bourke. Unless you need to go out for essential reasons, please just stay at home."

The Land offers this opportunity from our valued race photographer Janian McMillan's coverage from last year's races to imagine what it would have been like:

Related: Checkout this bumper photo gallery from the Bourke Picnic Races.

The message to stay home was also broadcast loud and clear from Bathurst.

Bathurst MP and NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Paul Toole, said a Public Health Order banned non-essential travel around the state, including for holidays and short breaks.

Bathurst's 6 Hour motoring event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Toole said the restrictions were making normal life difficult but said there were no other options at the moment.

"Saying to visitors to stay away is not something I would normally consider but we all need to spread the word that we don't want people coming into the region - and vice versa," he said.

"We don't want people from metropolitan areas thinking they might come out here to quarantine themselves and, at the same time, Bathurst people who might normally use this long weekend for a short break at the coast need to stay home as well."

And the message was out there for boaties too, being told the best place to stay is on dry land.

"All eyes will be on NSW waterways this long weekend," NSW Maritime A/ Executive Director Alex Barrell said.

"The last thing we want is for people to flock to NSW waterways and crowd boat ramps causing social distancing problems in the same way that was experienced on NSW beaches, requiring their closure."

NSW Maritime and NSW Police Force Marine Area Command officers remain out on the water to ensure the safety of essential and commercial waterway users.

"Unless you have a reasonable excuse to be out - stay ashore or consider another form of exercise," Mr Barrell said.

"Easter is traditionally a popular time for boating in NSW, but it is important to know that at this time, packing up your boat for a road trip and a half day fishing expedition is not in the spirit of the restrictions. This is about everyone doing their bit to save lives."

NSW Police Force Marine Area Commander, Superintendent Steve Hegarty, said recreational boaters are advised to use common sense, and remember to follow social distancing rules at all times.

"Skippers who are adhering to social distancing guidelines need to ensure they are complying with the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020," Supt Hegarty said.

"This weekend NSW Police will be continuing their patrols to ensure that everyone is playing their part in helping reduce the spread of COVID-19, and this includes on the water and at boat ramps."

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