Deniliquin Pastoral Times
Jubilation was in the air on Saturday morning as shop-owners flung open their doors again for local residents.
With many not authorised to open since lockdown was thrust on the state from 5pm on August 14, the CBD has been devoid of the vibrancy it is known for over many weeks.
That was until lockdown was lifted at 12.01am Saturday in most regional areas.
From mid-morning Saturday, traffic filled the streets of the CBD and their parking spaces, and shoppers spilled out on to the footpaths.
There were families playing in the park, brunches with friends, shopping and an overall relaxed atmosphere clung to the sunny morning.
Some stores were run off their feet with a team of staff racing to help customers find the right shoe or bring them their orders, while hairdressing salons welcomed back relieved clients.
Deniliquin Betta Home Living was ‘‘flat out’’ with busy customers looking for new furniture or just with an excuse to enjoy the beautiful spring weather and do some window shopping, according to owner/ manager Rob Collicoat.
Demand was just as high at Intersport Bennetts where patrons were fitted out with items they had been eyeing since before the store shut to comply with the lockdown.
Diggers Country Outfitters owner Megan Sutton said it felt ‘‘amazing to be back’’ in the store after more than four weeks of following stay-at-home orders.
‘‘One week (in lockdown) was fine, two weeks was okay, but three and then four were starting to feel like too much,’’ she said.
‘‘And it’s such a nice day so people get to really enjoy being out again,’’ she said Saturday.
The Fowler family were out on a stroll along the Cressy St side of the Waring Gardens, ‘‘the same as any lockdown day’’ they said.
Penny Fowler was ‘‘really surprised’’ to hear the Edward River Council local government area would be allowed out of lockdown so soon, adding she ‘‘thought we would only get a picnic with up to five people’’ — an allowance those in New South Wales’ higher risk zones will be afforded once their populations are more than 70 per cent fully vaccinated.
Later on Saturday the Fowlers celebrated two birthdays which passed unceremoniously during lockdown — their daughter Hazel’s third birthday, and her grandmother Robyn’s 70th.
While not the full market we would expect to see, the Naponda Farmers’ Market went ahead in a smaller format Saturday morning with a click and collect service for those who wanted to buy fresh local produce.
One stalwart stallholder, Maria Luks, was the first to return to the job selling flowers, dried pastas and canned goods.
The Naponda Store is also open to the public again on a daily basis and will welcome you in with a smile.
The shop was not quite as busy as usual, however as word spread and the day warmed up, regulars were seen returning for a catchup and to purchase some locally made products.
Community gardening also returned at the weekend, with 10 Deniliquin Community Garden members gathering at the Macauley St site keen to clean up the weeds which had unfortunately taken over their plots while the gates were locked.
The garden held its usual morning tea on Sunday with social distancing measures in place, and the committee will now reassess rules around opening week-toweek.
‘‘It’s great to be back — it’s about growing stuff but also about getting together with your community,’’ committee member Val Kruger said.
‘‘We’ll open as often as we can.’’
While lockdown has been lifted in most of regional NSW, rules still apply in regards to capacity limits and social distancing.
Deniliquin Local Health Advisory Committee chair Lourene Liebenberg said amidst the excitement of exiting lockdown, some people may have misconstrued the rules about gatherings.
She highlighted that you can still only have five visitors to your home, not including children 12 and under.
Gatherings in public spaces will be allowed up to 20 guests.
Masks are still required in all indoor settings, and QR check-ins are still in place.
The government urges people to get vaccinated as early as possible, and continue to practice health measures such as social distancing and sanitising.
It has also requested residents in low-risk regional areas not to travel further than they need to, and has stated anyone who travels to an area of concern must self-isolate for 14 days.
The NSW Government has warned that stay-at-home orders will be reinstated in any area which records a positive COVID19 case.