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Editorial |  :

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has praised people living in regional NSW as 'Defenders of their communities' for alerting police and CrimeStoppers to people from Sydney visiting their areas.

“I really want to thank people living in the regions for following the rules and also being one of our biggest public defenders,” Ms Berejikian said as she extended the lockdown in Sydney and other parts of the state for a further week.  

“I want to thank regional New South Wales for helping us in publicly defending our communities from the virus.”

The lockdown will be extended until 12:01am on July 17 for anyone in Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, and the local government areas of Wollongong and Shellharbour.

Earlier this week, police in the west of the state said rural communities were actively reporting city residents who are flouting COVID-19 health orders by visiting regional NSW.

Today’s news about further lockdown will hit some regions harder than others across the state.

Ms Berejiklian's praise for regional communities comes as many small businesses feel the effect of the lockdown, citing huge financial  losses over the usually lucrative school holiday period.

Businesses in parts of regional NSW say the Sydney lockdown has had a devastating "ripple effect" across a number of sectors.

Prior to the lockdown extension, Business New South Wales North Coast regional manager Jane Laverty said some Northern Rivers accommodation providers had reported a 70% drop in numbers since the lockdown started.

"Many of them had 80% bookings from Sydney and they've all been cancelled," she said.

"A lot of other people across the regions are just not travelling. They're following the health orders and deciding to stay at home, so we're not seeing those vacancies being rebooked.

"They're running, many of them, at only 10 or 20% occupancy."

Ms Laverty said the drastic drop in travellers had a flow-on effect to other businesses in the region.

"It has a ripple effect down into our main streets and to our smaller businesses that really use this holiday period to do well to help them get through the troughs," she said.

Ms Laverty said lockdown had also impacted many Northern Rivers manufacturers and suppliers.

"That ripple effect is impacting our manufacturers and others involved in the supply chain of food and goods back down into the Sydney market," she said.

The blow to accommodation providers is being felt in with Port Macquarie's Beach House Holiday apartments reporting a 70% drop in bookings.

Manager John Spencer said they were full until the Sydney lockdown started.

"We had a family here who came for seven nights but they decided to leave early — they wanted to get back to Sydney, back to their jobs and they were a bit worried about what the outcomes were going to be," he said.

Owner of the Rivermark Cafe in Port Macquarie Letitia Caldwell said the latest lockdown had been challenging.

"We're down around 50%+ in turnover since the closure of Sydney," she said.

"It's had a huge impact on our business.

"It has been extremely quite, so what we are planning on doing is just closing for four days this week to give my full-time staff some due holidays and to have some quiet time.

"Financially it's not great, but on another level we're able to spend some time with family so that's a really positive step."

Operations Manager at Port Macquarie's Billabong Zoo Blake Stone said they had seen a significant decline of people through the gate since the lockdown.

He said he would like to see more regional tourists lend their support.

"Take this opportunity knowing that we're not going to have those other inundation of the people from Sydney and so on to come out and visit the zoo," he said.

Above | (Right) Port Macquarie Rivermark Cafe owner Letitia Caldwell, (Left) Port Macquarie Beach House Holiday apartment managers John and Sharon Spencer.

Story By | Leah White, Luisa Rubbo, Rory McDonald & Sofie Wainwright

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