Local Labor politicians have written to the newly elected NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet to express concerns about the re-opening of the Mountains to tourists this week and whether there are enough police officers to cope.
Member for Blue Mountains, Trish Doyle and Blue Mountains Mayor, Mark Greenhill (pictured) said they had "grave concerns for the risk of the spread of COVID-19 locally, as restrictions ease [Monday October 11]".
"With travel between Greater Sydney and regional NSW still off limits, it is expected the Mountains will see a sudden influx of visitors from Sydney as residents who've been under strict lockdown for three months, seek out easily accessible places they can travel to," the mayor said.
Cr Greenhill said because the Mountains is classified as "Greater Sydney" by the state government, they are concerned "the Mountains will get whacked with massive visitation that will bring crowding at key locations and that means risks".
"Trish and I have written to the Premier asking what his plan is to keep our community safe and what resources he plans to divert here. We are concerned present levels of resourcing won't be enough," he said. "Our community has fought so hard to bring COVID cases in our region down and we don't want to see a spike."
He said specific concerns included police numbers, guidance to navigate through the opening, crowd control and security for venues.
"The big thing they could do would be to be consistent with their messaging - such as being hit with changes at the last minute, like we were with the pools. The Mountains has been classified as metropolitan Sydney and I don't know what is the government strategy for protecting these areas. I don't reckon it's been given a passing thought."
Ms Doyle said it had been "a long, difficult lockdown for many in our community and we are seriously concerned that if we open up without the proper protections in place, we'll find ourselves going backwards".
"The fact is, I have been invited to (by government) and am participating in briefings for regional MP's throughout the COVID lockdown, so many of our concerns: access to vaccinations, access to services and our environment, for example, are similar to those expressed by many other regions. We are NOT Sydney and I will be pursuing this reality when I return to Parliament sittings".
"We've fought hard for support local businesses, particularly those who are [in the] arts, hospitality and tourism and have experienced a complete loss of income over the lockdown. Needless to say, Mark and I very much welcome the opportunity for those business to re-open their doors and welcome much-needed visitors back to our region. Our concern though, if it's not done right, the risk of infection in our community will be greatly elevated.
"After such a long time in lockdown, everyone is desperate to move about freely again, but we are worried that sensible measures such as the continuation of social distancing and responsible behaviour may be disregarded.
"We need to know our local police are properly resourced so they can continue to support COVID safe behaviour in the Mountains."
And she added businesses needed clear advice and support "so the onus is NOT on them to police the constantly changing public health orders".
The premier's office was contacted for comment.