'Chaos and confusion': Covid lockdown splits community in half

The latest changes to lockdown restrictions in NSW have triggered widespread anger and confusion with one community now facing two sets of rules.

The state electorate of Shellharbour, south of Sydney, has been torn in two following a revision of what communities are considered part of Greater Sydney.

There are two Local Government Areas within the coastal electorate, Shellharbour and Wollongong, which are divided by Lake Illawarra.

Aerial view of Lake Illawarra, which is what divides the two LGAS. Source: Getty Images
Lake Illawarra is the boundary for the two LGAs of Shellharbour and Wollongong. Source: Getty Images

Shellharbour, on the eastern side, has been reclassified as regional while Wollongong to the west remains part of Greater Sydney.

At this stage, the lockdown in regional NSW will lift on August 28, while Greater Sydney remains under strict stay-at-home orders until at least the end of September.

It means residents on one side of the Windang bridge will remain in lockdown as residents on the other side are granted more freedoms.

New permit system introduced

From tomorrow, a new permit system will also come into force across NSW requiring Greater Sydney residents to seek permission before entering regional areas.

However, those who are travelling to a regional location within 50 kilometres of Sydney will not need a permit.

Changes slammed as unfair

State Labor MPs in the Illawarra have lashed out at the Deputy Premier John Barilaro, claiming they were not consulted about the changes.

“We have been given no explanation from the Government as to why this decision has been made,” Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park said.

Pictures of Labor MP's Ryan Park (left) and Anna Watson (right) over a map of the Shellharbour electorate. Source: NSW Electoral Commission (map)
Labor MP's Ryan Park (left) and Anna Watson (right) are furious over the decision to split the Illawarra community in two. Source: NSW Electoral Commission (map)

Mr Park, whose electorate covers part of the Wollongong LGA, slammed the move as “simply not fair.”

“As someone who has lived in the Illawarra all my life I have never considered us to be two cities, we are one region,” he said.

“I am beyond angry that the Premier and Deputy Premier have split this region in half despite weeks of low to very low case numbers.”

Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson fears the split will cause “chaos, confusion and division” among residents.

“The residents of the Shellharbour electorate, both from the Shellharbour and Wollongong LGA's, have done the hard yards, they've followed the rules and deserve to be treated the same,” she posted on Facebook.

Illawarra locals angry at divide

Frustrated residents have lashed out on social media.

“It’s the division of the Illawarra that bothers me. When restrictions start to ease it’ll be regional first, so businesses south of the bridge will be able to open while those in the north will continue to struggle,” commented one person.

Another posted: “For Central Coast to be regional and us not, is insane.”

“It’s a disgrace” and “so unfair and ridiculous” others said.

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