“THIS is a most serious wake-up call for those who have become blasé about maintaining social distancing,” federal Member for Macarthur Dr Mike Freelander told The AJN on Monday following a worrying outbreak of multiple new COVID-19 cases across Sydney that are understood to have emerged from visitors to the Crossroads Hotel in Casula, near his electorate’s northern border.
With 37 years’ experience as a paediatrician before entering politics, Freelander is one of only two MPs appointed by the Australian government to the National COVID-19 Health and Research Advisory Committee, which has been reporting to Australia’s chief medical officer since April.
His warning for all Sydneysiders against any sense of complacency about COVID-19 kicking in came a day before NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the maximum number of people permitted in pubs would be reduced from 600 to 300, and group bookings cut from 20 people down to 10, effective immediately.
The move followed breaches of social distancing – with fines applied – at venues the previous week including the Star Casino, the Golden Sheaf Hotel in Double Bay and a Shute Shield trial match at Eastern Suburbs Rugby Union Club’s ground in Bellevue Hill.
There were also reports of several private dance parties in Bondi occurring last weekend, including one which had more than 100 guests.
“It means we all need to be very vigilant at maintaining social distancing at all times and mindful of continuing to practise frequent hand washing and good personal hygiene,” Freelander said.
“Or it could lead to another lockdown in NSW, which is something we all want to avoid.”
The Jewish MP also called on the federal government to extend the JobKeeper and JobSeeker packages beyond September 28.