NSW COVID lockdown sees return to restrictions on farm businesses, saleyards, trucking and events

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Key industries across regional New South Wales are re-imposing strict coronavirus protocols as the state manages another outbreak.

Livestock saleyards implemented stricter COVID protocols after the two-week lockdown for Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Blue Mountains and Central Coast started on the weekend.

The Regional Livestock Exchange, which operates saleyards at Tamworth, Carcoar, Inverell and Singleton, have reverted to allowing essential staff only.

In a statement, the company said access would not be granted for media, vendors or the general public.

The Central West Livestock Exchange at Forbes was requiring all visitors to wear a mask to the sales.

Kate McGilvary from the Australian Livestock Marketers’ Association said vendors need to call their local agents to check what the local restrictions were.

“Because all saleyard facilities are quite different there will be different requirements,” she said.

Freight swabs

Highway testing sites have been re-established to help prevent truck drivers from inadvertently spreading COVID-19 to the regions.

The Regional Transport and Roads Minister, Paul Toole, said freight workers can now get tested along key transport routes including at Forbes on the Newell Highway, Taree on the Pacific Highway, Narrabarba on the Princes Highway, Tarcutta on the Hume Freeway and Narrandera on the Sturt Highway.

He said it was important trucks keep moving but not at the expense of containing the virus.

“It’s also about making sure they have the measures to be tested as well.”

“It’s not easy to actually have a large truck and drive into any of these testing clinics that are set up in some of our towns,” Mr Toole said.

Restaurant trade gone ‘straight away’

The snap two-week lockdown of Greater Sydney has meant farmers who supply the restaurant trade have been forced to redirect produce.

Greg Kocanda supplies organic vegetables to Sydney restaurants, wholesalers and some markets, from his farms in the Central Tablelands and the Hawkesbury.

“We’ve basically lost all of that [restaurant trade] straight away,” Mr Kocanda said.

He said he was confident the retail demand would cover the lost restaurant trade and also said it was a good time for it to happen during winter because there was less picking and harvesting to be done.

“And we’re down on crop [harvest] because we were affected by the floods,” he said.

Scramble to reschedule bookings

Agritourism operators have also felt the impact from Greater Sydney’s restrictions.

Steve Tilse from Tilses Apples in the Upper Hunter said he was trying to reschedule people from Sydney booked in to visit.

“Hopefully once this short lockdown comes out people will want to come and travel into the regions again,” he said.

Mr Tilse said his farm stay had been very popular with Sydney travellers before the lockdown.

Farm events up in the air

A decision on whether the Mudgee Small Farm Field Days will go ahead was yet to be made.

The popular event in the state’s Central West was scheduled for July 9 and 10.

A decision was expected to be made during the next few days.

By Hugh Hogan, Lara Webster, Mollie Gorman and Bridget Murphy  (Original ABC Article)