THE risks posed by the worrying outbreak of COVID-19 have demanded an unprecedented response from all Australians.
Federal and state governments are scrambling to keep pace with this changing pandemic and other organisations have no choice but to follow suit.
National sporting competitions are being shut down, tight travel restrictions are in place, community groups have been forced to abandon planned activities and even Anzac Day commemorations are being cancelled for the year.
Schools, hospitals and small businesses are also actively monitoring the situation and reassessing both their responses so far and the need for any changes.
We at the Mudgee Guardian are no different.
COVID-19 has forced us to take a look at how we go about our business in the new world.
We have a commitment to keep bringing you important local and regional news, now even more than ever, but we want to do it in a safe and responsible way that protects the community and our staff.
From Tuesday, we have asked as many staff as possible to work from home to reduce the risk of the virus spreading among our teams.
That does not mean we will never be seen in public; we will still be out taking photographs and reporting in court and council (for now, at least). But we will avoid unnecessary risks and will exercise "social distancing" as a matter of course.
That might mean conducting an interview over the phone that we would otherwise have done face-to-face, and might mean we ask people in some circumstances to take a photograph to send in to us rather than sending out a photographer.
As challenging as that might sometimes make things, we think it's important for your local newspaper to take something of a leading role in these tough times and show that if we can make some changes then so can other organisations and businesses around town.
The difficulties we're facing pale in comparison to what others in town are experiencing, particularly small business owners who are seeing sales rapidly dry up and cafes and restaurants who have empty tables with fewer people eating out at present.
But we hope some small changes we can all make now will help us avoid massive changes in the weeks and months to come.
- Ben Palmer, Editor