THE Wagga community is being warned to stay vigilant as part of the state's southern neighbour is under strict lockdown.
Melbourne has entered stage four lockdowns with all nonessential businesses forced to close and a nightly curfew introduced to the public.
The threat of stage five looms, and Riverina Police District Commander Superintendent Bob Noble said NSW needs to be just as prepared for a possible worst case scenario of its own.
"We would need a serious risk to be introduced in order to implement a total lockdown of Wagga, and it is not something that would be entered into lightly," he said.
"But the fact remains, it is a possibility and we need to be prepared."
Superintendent Noble facilitated a lockdown simulation last week with a number of key stakeholders.
"We held the exercise last Thursday largely via videolink with a number of others physically in the control centre," he said.
"We drew on all the usual emergency management stakeholders, but this time also had a particularly strong focus on local government."
With a turnout of about 75 participants, Superintendent Noble said the exercise was an overall success.
"We put forth a hypothetical scenario where a significant cluster of COVID-19 cases were reported, and the Health Minister had to lock down the greater urban area of Wagga," he said.
"That means all your outlying residential suburbs, the university and the industrial estate, but excluding places like Alfredtown or Uranquinty."
From the scenario, the group developed a report of considerations, drawing on experience from the ongoing border lockdown and the impact that poses on the region.
"Logistically, a total lockdown would be a very resource-intensive exercise, it would be complex and it would affect everyone, so it isn't something we want to do," Superintendent Noble said.
"Wagga was actually chosen to do this simulation as somewhat of a guineapig to reflect what would be needed for all similar communities."
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If the lockdown were to be implemented, Superintendent Noble said the police's role in enforcing it would revolve around the ministerial directions given, as well as traffic control.
"It would all be subject to the health minister obviously, and depends on the nature of an outbreak, but if it were something where a curfew was issued or masks were made mandatory, police would absolutely be out in force to make sure people are following those directions," he said.
"Police would definitely be in control of a curtailment of vehicle movement though, both in and out of the area.
"Naturally, that would be problematic for a lot of people, either travelling to and from work or school, and categorically within the community as well with limiting people allowed to leave the home at any given time and for specific purposes and tasks, however, we will do what we need to do."
Superintendent Noble reminded the community to be compliant and patient with each other and police as everyone learns to navigate the new norm.
"Police are now being required to do things we traditionally have never had to do, certainly not in modern times," he said.
"It's a unique time to be a police officer - When I joined in 1990, I never expected to be doing things like this.
"No one in the force ever envisaged some of the things we are experiencing now."