NSW Nationals Leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro says it’s important to stick together during tough times such as these, in this opinion piece below:

This week a number of restrictions were announced.

These restrictions are designed to prevent numbers of people gathering together.

As we have seen throughout the world, leaders and countries are trying to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

In countries where the outbreak has been somewhat controlled, we have seen fewer fatalities and some relief for hospitals and healthcare workers.

In places where restrictions were too late, or not implemented, we have seen the very real and tragic consequences of what can happen.

But this is an imprecise science.

Governments need to take decisive actions to mitigate COVID-19, which means the shutting down and limiting of activities, causing people’s lives to be thrown off course.

Australian life as we have understood it for decades, as we have become accustomed to, has changed momentously in a matter of weeks, even days.

There’s no way to sugar-coat this reality.

I have travelled through many country community towns in the state for a number of years now.

There would be few I haven’t visited.

And despite the varying local issues, the unique diversity of different townships, there is a commonality – it’s a sense of resilience and solidarity.

As scenes of panic buying, hoarding and individualism unfold within supermarkets, I am reminded that only months ago this country chipped in and deeply sympathised with numerous people affected by the bushfires, bereft of homes and tragically, loved ones.

The anxiety we feel now within our communities is normal – we are going through a difficult and challenging time.

It’s understandable, but that doesn’t mean we lose sight of the values we all hold so dearly – those that make us proudly Australian.

It’s a sense of community, fairness and unity – our communal strength.

This country’s venerable medical officers, hospital staff and health care workers are on the front line in this war against COVID-19.

These people deserve our support, and they deserve our deep respect.

Our elderly, immunosuppressed, the vulnerable, and those with existing medical conditions are most at risk.

These people need us all to do the best we can.

This can’t be business as usual. Our families, friends and communities need protection.

We need to be accountable to ourselves and each other.

As we enter the next phase of restrictions, it’s important to note this is just the beginning.

Many look to Government, and rightly so, for direction, but it’s up to all of us to follow the instructions.

These are given for the benefit of all – it’s for our health, our businesses and our communities.

Governments do not want to implement draconian measures that will continue to affect our communities – it’s the antithesis of what we strive to do.

But the virus has to be contained, and to do that, sacrifices must be made.

A fiscal response to businesses, families and individuals affected by the COVID-19 outbreak is being updated all the time.

The financial help will continue to adapt and change as the ground situation unfolds.

In the meantime, stay safe and please heed the expert advice.