Silver lining for regions aligning

Hyden’s quaint, Australian welcome, unseen by outsiders lately. Photo: Edward Rowsthorn.

Since March 31st, Western Australia’s regional borders have remained closed in a bid to contain the then heightening cases of coronavirus in the state.

Many have since been counting the days to when they can once again pack their bags and explore our vast regions.

The State Government said the regional borders could remain closed for months, with exemptions only given to those whose need to cross the borders was essential.

The usually bustling caravan park has seen busier days. Photo: Edward Rowsthorn.

Now, just short of two months after their initial closure, no one could have expected a date for the intrastate borders re-opening, but May 18th is now confirmed for nine of the 13 borders established to be relaxed.

Four borders will still remain closed in the Kimberley, Pilbara and Goldfields regions to protect remote communities.

The relaxing of the border restrictions will come to the relief of many feeling the strain of quarantine, though it seems those living in the regions are also ready to open their doors once again for business.

Long time Hyden local Gerard Lynch believes the State Government has handled the crisis very well and it was wise to close the borders on “professional health advice rather than populist opinion”.

The calming landscape of the community. Photo: Edward Rowsthorn.

Mr Lynch also believes while there are natural health concerns among the community with reopening the borders, he believes the town has adequate resources if a situation arises.

“I think our health care’s fairly strong, especially when you think of services like the Royal Flying Doctor and Telehealth that are pretty accessible, and with the extremely limited number of (active) cases in Western Australia we’re in a good position.”

Despite the protective measures, Mr Lynch believes now is a good time to ease restrictions, considering the lower health risk and regional businesses suffering from the lack of tourist clientele since the borders were shut.

Gerard Lynch highlighting the harsh nature of the border closures.

Though regional businesses may be doing it hard now, Cherie Walton, a Hyden farmer, said she expects tourism to bounce back quickly for the town, with bookings already being made to local establishments in the days since it was announced the borders were being relaxed.

“I’ve been talking to the caravan park and they’re completely booked out already.”

Though Mrs Walton is looking forward to Hyden being open to tourists again, she believes given the current crisis, though not as severe in WA, should be progressive rather than an over-amount of people flowing in, which could potentially lead to an outbreak.

Cherie Walton is glad her town will survive economically, but health concerns are another matter.

Mrs Walton believes while border closures have had an effect on local businesses, for most people the real struggle has been with their mental health.

“It’s mainly farmers because they haven’t been able to go away for weekends, especially to the coastal areas because we’re blocked off, and I think mental health is suffering because of it and feeling trapped.”