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DEAR TOURIST: Why are you here?

It’s only a few days until Easter. 

A time when Aussies traditionally gather with family or friends. Some, like you, jump in their cars and head our way for a well-earned break. 

However, this year we’re asking you to stay away. Stay away from our little corner of the world.

We’re begging you.

But….it’s your holiday, right? You’ve been looking forward to it. You’ve booked. You’ve paid. You’ve taken leave.

Yeah, we get that, but this year is different. Much different.

Like you, we all want to spend time with those we love. The people who mean more to us than anyone else in the world. The people we would die to protect.

And, again like you, we can all contract the coronavirus. It’s why most of the world is on some kind of lockdown. Why we’re all supposed to be staying at home.

Except, it would seem, some holiday makers in Port Stephens.

Yep. I know the drill

As a long-time Port Stephens resident – 20 years and counting – I know the holiday routine. 

The peninsula suddenly bursts with tourists. And like most long-time residents, I’m pleased for the $$$ you inject into our local economy. Local casual workers pick up new jobs and extra shifts. Cafes and restaurants are full of happy, well-fed guests. Business booms and we’re all feelin’ groovy.

I’m happy to drive around a few extra times looking for a car spot at the shopping centre, will scoot my towel over at the beach and yes, even occasionally roll my eyes at the whiff of entitlement that accompanies some visitors.

Yep. I’m sure that last comment won’t win me any friends but there ya go.

Does my family matter less than yours?

I’m also a mother who wants to protect her children. Children I raised right here in Port Stephens. I’m an occasional carer for elderly parents who are highly susceptible to coronavirus and are now self-isolating at home, fearful of the outside world. 

So…..

Why are you here? And if you’re not here yet, but are planning to come…. why?

Does your desire to have a holiday override my need to protect my family? A need that is shared by the other 72,000 or so residents of Port Stephens?

Is my family….OUR FAMILIES … somehow worth less than yours?

The government doesn’t think so and so has ordered you all to stay at home.

But that doesn’t matter to you. Somehow the universal rules don’t include you.

And yet two night ago, there was a holiday home filled with 15 partygoers at Lemon Tree Passage.

We’re hurting here. We’ve lost our jobs

People are unemployed. Shops have shut, businesses are closed. 

But who cares, right? You want your holiday!

As one small business owner commented to me ‘Our jobs are gone, and they thumb their nose at it’.

Another local resident said ‘there’s a lot of us…currently unemployed but doing the right thing..hoping to be able to work again soon’

You can see where this is going. At least I hope so.

Another concerned resident from the Nelson Bay area messaged me and said ‘…This is not the time. Their selfishness flies in the face of common sense and respect for other human beings. Road blocks required!”

We’re just like you

We’re hurting too. Just like you.

We’re stressed and anxious and worried. Just like you.

We’ve lost our jobs. Just like you.

Our kids are crying and not sleeping and worried about this scary invisible monster. Just like yours.

We want to visit family this Easter. Just like you.

We want a holiday. Just like you.

We want to hug our kids. Just like you.

The rules state you can’t leave your home, so you shouldn’t even be here.

So, Ill ask again.

Why are you here?