As the COVID-19 cases in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District climb to 35 and Narrandera records its first case, the town’s retail sector is finding ways to reinvent itself.
With 1582 people tested, new cases were confirmed this week in Narrandera, Hay, Murrumbidgee, Berrigan and Snowy Valleys shires, and three additional COVID-19 testing clinics were opened in the Riverina at Deniliquin, Cootamundra and Tumut.
Wagga and Griffith Base Hospitals are operating testing clinics seven days a week.
Murrumbidgee Police District Commander Craig Ireland said local police officers had already responded to breaches of self-isolation, with on-the-spot fines of $1000 for an individual or $5000 for businesses.
Narrandera Medical Centre is ensuring patients without COVID-19 can be safely treated on site. All patients are asked to ring the centre on 6958 1000 for triaging by a nurse over the phone, and then allocated the most appropriate type of consultation.
Phone consultations are available for those over 70 or with chronic disease, respiratory lung disease, diabetes, weakened immune systems and cancer patients. The centre urged people over 70 or over 60 with chronic health conditions to ask family friends, neighbours or community members to shop for groceries or collect medicines.
Meanwhile, retail trade has continued in Narrandera with businesses adapting to the new social distancing requirements and takeaway food only for the food service sector.
Hall’s Coffee Cottage has been serving takeaway and home delivered home cooked meals, the Lazy Lizard takeaway meals, CamJai Catering and Takeaway Café remains open, the Red Door Café is open for takeaway and the Early Opener has restricted access to three customers at any one time.
Café Shazaray elected to close on March 24. Narrandera Bakery has introduced temporary new trading hours and can arrange delivery in conjunction with Narrandera Milk, Drinks and Smallgoods.
In Barellan, the hotel is open for takeaway lunch on Thursday-Saturday, and the Golden Grain Café is open for takeway. The Royal Hotel at Grong Grong is serving takeway.
Fusion op shop has remained open, continues to take donations while implementing new hygiene procedures. But, Vinnies closed its Narrandera store on March 25, opening on Fridays only from 10am-12.30pm for emergency food and assessments (phone 6959 2335 for assistance).
Narrandera Shire Council has moved to close its customer service centre and community services centre to protect the community and staff. Online and phone services will continue, including planning and building, ranger, water, sewer, waste, road work, ground works, community transport, library and home support programs.
For those wishing to access Government services and Centrelink during the library closure, the Department of Human Services customer free wi-fi is available externally at the library. No password is required.
“We are working hard to keep everyone well informed during these challenging times and appreciate your understanding and patience,” general manager George Cowan said.
For those self-isolating, under quarantine, the Narrandera Library has a range of free e-resources by visiting www.wrl.nsw.gov.au/elibrary
Campers have been banned from the Narrandera showground and Brewery Flats in light of the pandemic. Existing campers were advised to vacate the grounds by March 27.
Lake Talbot Tourist Park is not accepting any holiday makers and has closed to compliance with the Government directive on non-essential travel. Managers Graeme and Jan Hoare said the park may provide emergency accommodation and offered flexible options to visitors to roll over their bookings.
Despite the likelihood of Regional Express grounding its fleet from April 6, Narrandera Shire Council has confirmed the Narrandera-Leeton airport will remain open. The airport remains a vital service with daily freight logistics and regular air ambulance, Toll Rescue and other emergency services requiring access.
Council confirmed a local charter company is still operating from the airport focusing on isolated work areas and other charter flights over the coming months. Council staff will continue to undertake daily and weekly night inspections to meet the operational requirements of the airport.
Anyone concerned they may have coronavirus symptoms can call the Murrumbidgee COVID-19 Hotline on 1800 831 099.
In other changes, Bendigo and District Community Bank Branch has initiated temporary trading hour changes to Monday to Friday 9.30am-2.30pm.
Coles Narrandera is trialling a number of ways to deliver food and grocery essentials to vulnerable members of the community. Coles Online Priority Service will offer customers a carefully selected, simplified range so they can supply as many people as possible with the essentials they need. Community Hour during the first hour of trade in store will continue to give access to the elderly, vulnerable, emergency service and healthcare professionals to complete their shopping.
Coles Narrandera previously offered a delivery service in the community but this was abandoned.