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Member for Monaro John Barilaro has issued a plea to potential holidaymakers to listen to the advice of authorities and avoid non-essential travel to the region.

“Normally in the Monaro we welcome visitors with open arms, however, we need to do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus),” Mr Barilaro said.

“All Australians are advised to cancel or postpone non-essential travel and this includes trips within NSW.

“I have had a number of concerning calls and emails from constituents, who say people are ignoring the advice and still holidaying in our towns including Jindabyne and Thredbo.

“This tough time is not an opportunity for a holiday, or an opportunity to work remotely from a holiday destination.

“Everybody needs to take this seriously. It is life or death, particularly for our elderly and those with existing health conditions.

Mr Barilaro had a clear message for those considering unnecessary travel.

“By ignoring the advice of authorities and continuing to travel to our region you are not only causing great distress within the community, but you are putting people’s lives at risk. I do not want to see this continue to happen,” he said.

The plea comes ahead of the Easter long weekend and the ski season, which is the busiest time of the year for many communities in the Monaro.

Mr Barilaro said it will be tough on businesses, but the health of the community needs to come first.

“Unfortunately we are going to miss out on much-needed tourism dollars, but now is not the time to be encouraging people to the region, and any business that does so is putting the health of their community at risk,” Mr Barilaro said.

“It is absolutely critical that we keep spaces in our hospitals available for local residents, and that we do everything we can to limit the pressure on our local health resources.”

Any person who believes they may have contracted the COVID-19 virus are advised in the first instance to call the Southern NSW Local Health District Service 1800 999 880 (option 1), where people will be triaged and if testing is warranted, will be directed to an assessment centre based on location.

In the Monaro, COVID-19 Assessment Centres are operating at both Queanbeyan District Hospital and Health Service and Cooma Hospital and Health Service.