The world has turned its whole attention to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most countries have recorded cases and deaths.
The flow-on effects are having a large impact on the economies of the world and social life in areas like our own.
Each day there are new announcements about restrictions on public gatherings, and advice given to those who suspect they may have been in contact with somebody carrying the disease.
The end result being that organised sport is virtually shut down, and all meetings regarded as non-essential are being cancelled or postponed.
As a council, we are not isolated from the problem and have had to make decisions that are in line with national and state directives. Meeting the requirement of one person per four square metres will impact on all meetings we would normally be attending. I can't see any staff or councillors being able to physically travel very far.
Technology now allows us to communicate with outside bodies without having to all be in one room. Having video links on large screens in both of our offices will be a big help to continue to function in a practical way.
Our council offices can still operate, but only by appointment. This means the photo point and other facilities can still be used, and inquiries will be answered by phone or email.
The big effect will be the social fabric of our local communities. Life will be much different without winter sports and depending on how long the crisis goes on for, maybe even summer sports as well.
Some shops will be closing on a temporary basis. Clubs, pubs, churches and food outlets are greatly impacted. Sadly, there will be job losses and hardships in individual cases. Council is working through the situation and trying to determine which of the staff will be able to work from home with the use of various technologies.
However, with the closing of the SA state border, there also are issues of living there. We have people living in Victoria but working in SA and vice-versa, and many people use towns close to the border as their service and medical centres.
Early indications are that these situations can be worked through, but if a positive infection was to happen locally, the restrictions will become very tight.
We are all going to have to work together, do the right thing and don't buy up all the goods that others may need as well. Let's hope an effective vaccine is not far away.
Cr Bruce Meyer, West Wimmera Shire Council