Automated pedestrian crossings have been installed at major crossings in Wollongong in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The 24/7 automated systems are operational at crossings near Wollongong Hospital and on Crown, Osborne and Staff street, and New Dapto Road.

The roll-out came after Transport for New South Wales and New South Wales Health identified 10 key areas to implement the automated crossings to protect patients, staff, and visitors of Wollongong Hospital.

NSW Transport secretary Rodd Staples said the would help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re introducing this initiative to minimise the spread of Coronavirus in the community, especially for essential hospital staff, patients, and members of the community visiting the hospital,” he said.

The automated crossings are contact-free, with pedestrians no longer required to press a button.

Mr Staples said it is still important for Australians to practice social distancing and good hygiene despite signs Australia has started to ‘flatten the curve’.

“People should continue to wash their hands regularly, sneeze and cough into their elbows or clean tissues that are then discarded and always practice social distancing,” Mr Staples said.

Wollongong councillor  John Dorahy encouraged people to use the crossing and said the change could be long-term.

“Whilst the intention may be to change the functionality back to a reactive function once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, I strongly suggest, for the ongoing good health of residents and visitors that Wollongong City Council by way of this motion continue the proactive approach and maintain the automatic sequencing across the local government area,” he said.

“We noticed a difference in how people approach these pedestrian crossings and you can see a sigh of relief that they do not have to touch the button to request crossing with the lights. I am sure this function has assisted in keeping Wollongong’s number of infections low.”

Cllr Dorahy said the automated crossings were also likely to improve traffic safety.

“Additionally, the ‘timed crossing’ function is a safety action that assists those pedestrians who are unable to adequately gauge the existing safety function in normal pedestrian crossings and try to rush across at the very last moment, thereby potentially causing injury or a fatality,” he said.