More lock down questions answered

Filed in Just In by August 6, 2021

THE Upper Hunter Shire Council area is not in lock down, but Muswellbrook, Singleton and other local government areas (LGAs) in the Hunter are in lock down.

If you have visited an affected LGA on or since Saturday, July 31, you need to comply with stay at home orders. UPDATE: These orders were updated on Thursday, August 12. When the government extended lock downs for another 7 days, the stay at home orders for people who visited those LGAs has also extended by another 7 days, meaning you must adhere to the orders for a total of 14 days since leaving the affected LGA.

Please note, stay at home orders are NOT the same as if you have been contacted by NSW Health to advise you have been a close contact or if you have the virus. Under stay at home orders you are able to continue to do essential activities such as medical appointments, grocery shopping and school or work – if you are unable to do it from home. The process is the same as we have experienced in this community, as we have in previous lock downs. Whereas, if you have been contacted by NSW Health as a close contact or confirmed case, you must stay home, isolate for 14 days and follow their instructions.

If you have questions please send them to us and we will clarify any issues with NSW Health: news@scone.com.au.

Some questions and answers which may help you:

I live in the UHSC and I am an essential worker. However, I have one young child who is cared for by relatives in Muswellbrook and another who goes to pre-school in Aberdeen. I won’t be able to work if I can’t continue to access my existing childcare. What can I do?

If you or your child have travelled to the Muswellbrook LGA on or since July 31 you both have to adhere to stay at home orders, however you can continue to work and your child can continue to have care. If the care providers for your child live in Muswellbrook, but come to your home to care for your child, when they are here they need to adhere to stay at home orders while they are here and only go to and stay in your home with the child – unless they need to do an essential activity such as access medical care. Your child who goes to day care in Aberdeen can continue to do so.

I am 26, I am an essential worker and have underlying health conditions, but have not had the vaccine yet. Because I am 26 I’ve been told I am not in the age group to be eligible for vaccination yet. When will I be eligible?

If you have an underlying health condition you may qualify as being part of the 1B category and as an essential worker you may also qualify under 1A or 1B for vaccination. The vaccinations given to GP’s in private practice have to adhere to specifications by the federal government and may be restricted to you – check with your GP. However, you should phone the Muswellbrook Community Health Centre operating the state government vaccination hub near the Muswellbrook Hospital and explain your age, underlying health conditions and what you do for work. You may qualify under 1A or 1B to be prioritised for the vaccine.

I live in Muswellbrook, but my Dr is in Aberdeen can I still go to my medical appointment?

Yes. There are provisions for medical care under the stay at home orders. Under the provisions, you can go to the appointment, but avoid going anywhere else, don’t be tempted by the delicious pies at Crofts. Go directly to your appointment, wear your mask, stay 1.5 and hand-sanitise do all the right things, then return to Muswellbrook and continue stay at home orders. Remember, stay at home orders are different to the rules around if you are a close contact or a confirmed case. In that situation you can absolutely still access medical care, but you would need to phone ahead to the hospital or advise the ambulance service, so that staff are prepared and ready to care for you.

I live in Scone and had arranged to meet friends at a local club on Saturday night. Can we still do this?

If you live in Scone and you haven’t visited an affected LGA, then yes you can still go to the club on Saturday and socialise. However, if your friends live in an affected LGA or are under stay at home orders, they won’t be able to join you. While UHSC is not in lock down and we still have latitude with freedoms to socialise, continue to stay safe by wearing a mask, social distancing and when you enter the club and before you eat, use the hand sanitiser they have ready for you.

What financial support is available for employees and businesses who are now impacted by the lock down?

The Covid-19 disaster payment is available as a lump-sum payments for people who lost work and income due to public health orders: Covid-19 disaster payment. There is also other financial assistance available for businesses which can be found here: Covid-19 support packages

We were planning to go to a funeral next week, which has changed to Saturday, can we still go to funerals at the moment in Scone?

Yes. The government has made concessions until August 8 for weddings and funerals. (Read more: Exemptions for weddings and funerals). The UHSC is not subject to lock down at this stage and there are concessions for people from affected LGAs to attend funerals and weddings with more latitude until August 8. However, consider how you can reduce the risk of infection as much as possible. Many funerals are being live streamed and this can allow people to participate in the service and post messages of condolences. If you do attend the funeral, be mindful of wearing your mask, social distancing and using hand sanitiser. Ideally, having the funeral or wedding in an outdoor space will also reduce risks of infection. If people do travel from an affected LGA, please attend the service, then return to your home and adhere to stay at home orders. 

How long after a vaccination until I have good immunity?

One vaccination helps reduce your risk of becoming hospitalised with covid-19 and offers 70 percent protection, but the second dose is needed for proper protection. After the second dose, of either vaccine, it takes approximately three weeks for your immunity to be boosted.

I am 26, an essential worker and have an underlying health condition, but my GP has told me I am not in the age group to be vaccinated yet, when will I be able to get it?

The two pathways to access the vaccines are either through your GP or through a vaccination hub, such as the hub in Muswellbrook near the Muswellbrook Hospital and the government is working to roll out vaccines at pharmacies. If you are an essential worker and you have underlying health conditions, you may be prioritised in the 1A or 1B category. However, it is really important when you phone to get a vaccine appointment, that you inform the clinic you have underlying conditions and you are an essential worker so they can categorise for you vaccinations correctly. The federal government is supplying GPs with vaccines and they stipulate with each vaccine supply who the vaccinations can be administer to, however the vaccination hubs are supplied by the state government and often have different criteria for who they can be administered to. It is best to phone your GP and the vaccination to hub to discuss the best approach for you.  

Read previous questions and answers: Covid restrictions: Some questions answered.

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