COVID-19: Port Stephens Council services explained

The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the Hunter - which had by Tuesday seen the number of confirmed cases exceed 70 - has forced Port Stephens Council to close services including its pools, libraries, halls, visitor information and community centres.

The March 24 council meeting was cancelled while citizenship ceremonies due to be held on March 30 and April 7 and Youth Week activities planned across the Port for April 4 have been postponed.

The majority of remaining council services remain open, including the council administration building in Raymond Terrace and the Port's beaches.

Caravan parks are open for 'essential travel' only, with increased cleaning programs in place in compliance with health and government regulations.

"Council is also liaising with the Caravan Industry Association of Australia to ensure the caravan sector is duly considered in all planning and responses to the COVID-19 matters," a council spokesperson said.

The library's home-bound delivery and click and collect services will remain operational and residents can download the free library app to access eLibrary, which includes adults and kids eBooks, newspapers, magazines, music and movie streaming and online learning.

And while Hunter Water has closed both Finnan Park at Grahamstown Dam and Chichester Dam picnic areas, all other council parks remain open but social distancing of 1.5 metres applies.

Tomaree Community Centre remains open but will not be taking bookings, while Nelson Bay's visitor information centre has shut its doors. Phone calls on 1800 808 900 will be accepted.

"All working bees for council volunteers are discouraged to ensure the health and well-being of our volunteers," a council spokesperson said.

"Our building inspections service remains unchanged, and the Port Stephens Council Children Services are operating as normal with an increased focus on health and hygiene."

"Medical centres and other medical facilities are preparing for the potential spread. As a result, you may notice changed parking or traffic conditions around medical centres in the coming weeks. Sporting fields and waste services are unaffected at this time."

In response to the impact of coronavirus on tourism and business communities, the council has created the Port Stephens Business Support Service - an allocation of resources to ensure businesses can talk directly to someone who can help them find the right information they need to help them through this crisis.

"We're not the experts, but we do have the expertise to connect you with the most relevant and current professional advice, financial support and practical help," mayor Ryan Palmer said.

"Call the Small Business Support Hotline on 0428 115 124 or email"

Work is also underway to determine how best the council can utilise the Port Stephens Business and Tourism Support Fund in its recovery.

"I also want to remind you that council also has processes to assist ratepayers experiencing financial hardship," Cr Palmer said.

"I am more motivated by the spirit of the Port Stephens community every day - we are perhaps one of the last true communities and the way we band together in times of crises is inspiring."

Port Stephens Council can be contacted on (02) 4988 0255, while the latest virus information can be found at NSW Health or the Australian Government Health website.

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