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In an email to the state’s Health Minister Brad Hazzard, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said more measures needed to be taken to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“There is a need to further reduce mobility of people and reduce workplace transmission events,” she wrote, advising the: “closure of residential construction and non-essential repair services.”
Instead, the government and then-premier Gladys Berejiklian shut residential, commercial and state-owned infrastructure projects like Westconnex, putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work for two weeks.
On July 13 when the email was written, there were 99 new cases of COVID-19. A fortnight later there were 176.
Six weeks later, on September 10, the state recorded 1603 cases.
The sledgehammer did not have the desired effect and cost the economy more than a billion dollars.
“For me as a business owner and for all my staff, the anxiety it caused and the issues that arose from that were absolutely devastating, it was such a hard time for us,” Tane Butterworth from E Masonry Contracting told 9News.
“It was so frustrating for us to be sitting at home doing nothing at home when we could have been at work – working to the guides, working to the code, getting something done.”
Dr Chant’s advice was also ignored when she pushed for the same restrictions for the entirety Sydney. Instead, the government put curfews and harsher restrictions on certain council areas.
“I don’t think the government was being straight with people of NSW through the pandemic… clearly they had advice they weren’t following,” NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns said.
While he was the treasurer, Dominic Perrottet constantly argued with then-Premier Ms Berejiklian about her restrictions going too far.
Now he is premier, he will need to deal with the fallout from the construction industry and people like Mr Butterworth whose businesses were ravaged by the shutdown.
“The pain and suffering it caused us is something that will be with us for such a long time – for me and all my staff,” Mr Butterworth said.