Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times

Volunteer firefighters and local State Emergency Service crews could be called on to help with travel restrictions after State Government regional lockdowns came into effect on Wednesday.

Local volunteers could be deployed to help support emergency services such as ambulances and border controls — especially in the weeks ahead if lockdowns are extended to local government boundaries.

With only nine official confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the South West — and one in Margaret River — Premier Mark McGowan this week said WA’s “hard borders” might avoid further restrictions on business and everyday life. Local authorities told the Times if the spread of infections was contained by the drastic new measures — which bans all non-essential travel between regions and would see police and defence force personnel control checkpoints — social restrictions might also relax in the Capes within the next few months.

Shire of Augusta-Margaret River president Ian Earl said the Shire was now operating in a similar fashion to the emergency conditions seen during the 2011 bushfires. He urged all residents to see the pandemic as a time for the community to pull together.

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In the first instance, that meant taking social distancing, quarantine, and handwashing seriously, Cr Earl said.

“People need to think about the whole-of-community response,” he said. “Some people in the last few days have been extremely selfish ... (but other) people are standing up rapidly.”

Images of surf break carparks overflowing at the weekend sparked outrage as well as concern from those in quarantine, fearing residents and visitors who ignored social distancing measures put everyone else at risk.

There have also been concerns about travellers and backpackers stranded in the region.

People are now only allowed to leave their homes to exercise, receive medical care, shop for essentials, or travel to work or education.

Cr Earl reiterated calls this week for all travellers to leave if they could, and for Perth residents to obey restrictions.

“If we get an outbreak, heaven help us,” he said. “We will end up with people dying down here in all probability because of a fair degree of selfishness from people.”

The shire’s population was already at peak summer proportions, and local doctors told the Times they were hopeful border restrictions would make the pandemic workload manageable.

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