HOORAY: Olivia and Alana Piper enjoy an outing to the national park.
HOORAY: Olivia and Alana Piper enjoy an outing to the national park.

CLEAR OF COVID: Families enjoy first freedoms

FAMILIES explored their new-found freedom this afternoon, taking to the Main Range National Park to enjoy a much-needed breath of fresh air.

The lockdown was eased as Darling Downs Health reported the recovery of the region’s final coronavirus patient.

From today, households and up to one additional person can leave home for non-essential purposes and for many Southern Downs families, it was their first outing since early March.

Parents of five Josh and Natasha Piper said the lockdown had been challenging as their family attempted to juggle home life, schooling and the arrival of a newborn baby.

“It was very hard,” Mrs Piper said.

“I couldn’t go out, I couldn’t have friends come over and introduce them to the new baby and all the activities for toddlers were cancelled.”

Mr Piper said the family was fortunate, however, to live in a region with plenty of room to effectively practise social distancing.

“I think everyone here listened and followed the rules and stayed at home,” he said.

“Being country people, it’s a lot easier for us to stay away from each other!”

Warwick plumber Gregory O’Malley concurred, saying residents were “so far away from everyone else” that it wasn’t surprising the virus hadn’t taken hold.

“We’re not like Sydney,” he said.

The O’Malley’s family experience had been quite a bit easier, too, as they managed to avoid homeschooling.

“I work as a plumber so I’m still going to work during the day, and my wife is a teacher, so the kids can keep going to school,” Mr O’Malley said.

“But it’s nice to bring them somewhere different today.”

For larger local families, the greatest disappointment was not being able to catch up over a meal and watch the kids play.

Warwick nurse Vickie Virgen said she missed being able to have their weekly family Friday night dinner, despite finding workarounds with Facetime and Snapchat.

“We’re a very close, social family,” she said.

“It will be nice to have that back again.”

She thanked the local police for the role they played in upholding the lockdown restrictions, stating her family had been questioned by police at the park earlier that day.

“It’s been very good, the police pulled up to see where we’re from,” she said.

“There are people who tried to get away with it who were caught on the border and sent back home again.”

Warwick resident Megan O’Neil, who had come for a day trip with a friend, warned Southern Downs residents should not take their freedom lightly.

“It is good to be able to get out of the house and go for a drive,” she said.

“But I don’t think this is the end of it.

“We’ve had a lull but people are starting to get back out into the community, and it’s getting colder, so I think round two could arrive.

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