An angry local mayor has compared the covid-ravaged western suburbs, which is currently in lockdown to “Zimbabwe or Kazakhstan”.
Cumberland Shire Council mayor Steve Christou said the “vibrant, hardworking community” in his local government area is struggling through Sydney’s toughest restrictions.
For more than three weeks, these residents have not been permitted to leave their LGA unless they are essential workers, after the NSW government identified it as one its early areas of “concern” because of rising case numbers.
“They can’t work from home – they work in construction, retail,” Cr Christou said.
“Everyday we are inundated with phone calls and emails that people can’t pay their mortgage, their rent. It’s getting to the point where they’re missing meals.”
Camera IconAtilla Tok, owner of New Star Kebabs in Auburn, pictured here in happier times, fears businesses in his area will not reopen after lockdown. Jonathan Ng Credit: News Corp Australia
The mayor, who has made several colourful media appearances since Sydney’s outbreak began in June, is pushing for residents to get vaccinated but says he doesn’t know if they can make it through another lockdown extension.
“I’d like to see the vaccination numbers hit 70 per cent and have some firm [government] leadership where they don’t take a bet each way. We need to accept that Covid-19 is here for the foreseeable future,” he said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Thursday said the front of the outbreak had now moved towards Cumberland.
Greater Sydney is concluding its seventh week of a lockdown that has been extended at least until August 28, as the Delta outbreak spreads into regional NSW and case numbers continue to climb.
Atilla Tok has owned the popular Auburn restaurant New Star Kebab, in the heart of Cumberland, for 21 years and fears many of the businesses in the area will not reopen if the lockdown is further prolonged.
“I’ve been there for a long time. Everyone thinks I’m the strongest one, but I have no clue what to do,” he said.
“Financial wise we are struggling, but mentally we’re not any good either. We can’t even sleep thinking about what are we going to do. I don’t know in the long-term what’s going to happen.”
He said he had made a claim with Service NSW for an emergency Covid-19 business grant more than a fortnight ago, but is yet to receive the one-off payment despite multiple follow-up phone calls.
Camera IconCumberland Mayor Steve Christou is pushing for his local government area to hit the 80 per cent vaccine target as soon as possible. Credit: Supplied
Ms Berejiklian on Wednesday apologised to those who had experienced delays, with The Australian reporting that fewer than a third of more than 112,000 applications had been processed.
Mr Tok said business owners were also struggling with rent and to pay their bills.
He claims his energy bills have not been reduced despite his restaurant cutting its opening hours by about 50 per cent.
NSW on Friday hit a record high of 390 new cases, while 50 per cent of the population have now received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose according to federal government data.
Service NSW has been contacted for comment.Internet Explorer Channel Network