Great Southern leaders plea for calm in our region after WA’s first community coronavirus case in 10 months

Cameron Newbold & Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
Great Southern police Superintendent Ian Clarke is calling for calm after Albany supermarket shelves where stripped bare on Sunday.
Camera IconGreat Southern police Superintendent Ian Clarke is calling for calm after Albany supermarket shelves where stripped bare on Sunday. Credit: Albany Advertiser/Liam Croy

Great Southern community leaders have called for calm and vigilance as WA rises to meet a new challenge in the battle against COVID-19.

Within minutes of the announcement of WA’s first community COVID-19 case in 10 months, Great Southern supermarkets were bustling with shoppers.

Despite the Great Southern falling outside the lockdown zone, the familiar sights and sounds of “panic buying” returned immediately.

Messages were played over speakers at crowded Albany supermarkets calling for shoppers to remain polite and maintain social distancing.

Mt Barker Police issued a plea on social media for panic-buyers to “recheck the news broadcasts” because the Great Southern was not in lockdown.

“There is no need to strip the shelves of the IGA. Please be responsible,” Mt Barker police said on Twitter. There were similar scenes around the region, with Katanning Woolworths inundated with shoppers and Lake Grace IGA adopting a “logbook” system for toilet paper.

Great Southern police Superintendent Ian Clarke said if shoppers showed restraint, there should be no supply shortages.

“We are asking people to take time to reflect,” Supt Clarke said.

“Commercial operators will still be able to supply food and essential items into our shops.”

Supt Clarke said the key messages for the community were to use WA’s QR code contact-tracing system and maintain hygiene and social distancing standards.

“We’re asking everyone to play as a team and support each other. That’s really essential,” he said.

The Great Southern Police District includes some areas within the lockdown zone, such as the towns of Boddington and Walpole. Supt Clarke said there would be a hard border control point on the South Coast Highway in Nornalup, as well as 24/7 patrols across the region.

City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington said he believed the State had a “terrific handle” on the situation and it was not necessary to panic.

“Just be vigilant ... be safe, follow the rules and be sensible about it,” he said.

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