Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced new rules for the far northern NSW holiday hotspot and the surrounding Ballina, Tweed and Lismore local government areas, which come into effect 5pm Wednesday and continue over the Easter long weekend until midnight April 5.
The latest NSW case is linked to the Brisbane cluster sparked by an infected hospital nurse who unknowingly spread the virus at a hen’s party in Byron Bay last week.
The northern NSW man aged in his 20s tested positive after sitting within close proximity to an infected hen’s party from Queensland at the Byron Beach Hotel last Friday. He is now in isolation.
Gatherings in homes, including holiday rental properties have been restricted to a maximum 30 people in the four northern NSW local government areas.
Public indoor settings including hospitality venues must revert back to the one person per four square metre rule while the wearing of masks in shops, public transport and taxis will be mandatory.
Masks are now mandatory in all businesses, taxis and on public transport in Byron Bay and the surrounding Tweed, Ballina and Lismore local government areas. Pictured is a waitress wearing a mask in Byron Bay on Wednesday
More venues in Byron Bay have also been added to NSW Health’s COVID-19 exposure site list, including a burger bar, surf shop and women’s clothes store.
Two Ballina venues have also been added after the NSW case attended a tavern and golf course while unknowingly infectious on Sunday March 28.
Anyone who attended the Henry Rous Tavern on Sunday between 1.20pm- 2.20pm or the Ballina Golf and Sports Club pro shop 2:25pm – 2:35pm must immediately get tested and self-isolate until further advice is provided by NSW Health.
NSW Health has adopted a cautious approach to minimise the risk of further transmission.
‘We want you to limit the number of people that come to your home to 30 and, as we know, during this time of year, there may be house parties or other events,’ Ms Berejiklian said on Wednesday.
‘We want all of those limited to 30 and please make sure you have a list of everyone who attended or is attending your home.’
New NSW restrictions
The following restrictions apply to the Byron Bay, Ballina, Tweed and Lismore local government areas, which come into affect from 5pm Wednesday (march 31) and continue over Easter until 11:59pm Monday April 5
– Home gatherings restricted to 30 people, including holiday rentals
– One person per four square metre rule in public indoor settings including hospitality venues
– Customers must be seated at all times in venues
– Mandatory masks in shops, transport, taxis
All public indoor settings, including hospitality venues must revert back to the four square metre rule, where customers must stay seated at all times.
‘The positive news in all of this is we’re not saying to businesses shut your doors, quite the opposite,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
‘We are saying you can keep your doors open but because of the risk that is there, we want you to be extra cautious.
‘Until the end of Easter, you are able to keep your doors open but make sure you revert to the four square metre rule and make sure that all of your patrons are seated and not standing up and mingling.’
‘Given what has been identified since 8pm last night, the community and our citizens would understand why we are taking these measures.’
The infected case was notified after 8pm Tuesday and will be included in Thursday’s NSW figures.
He was informed on Monday he had attended a venue of concern, the Byron Beach Hotel last Friday night.
He immediately presented for testing and self-isolated.
He remains in isolation while his household contacts and several friends who were at the hotel with him have tested negative.
Residents in the Byron, Tweed, Lismore and Ballina areas are strongly urged to not travel outside the region over the Easter break.
‘It is our strong preference – it will not be mandatory but it is our very strong preference – that if you live in any of those four local government areas, that you don’t travel outside those areas,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
‘We won’t be policing that but it is very strong advice … if there is community transmission, we don’t want it seeded to other parts of NSW.’
The latest NSW case attended the Byron Beach Hotel (pictured) last Friday night, where the man aged in his 20s was sitting within close proximity to an infected hen’s party from Queensland
Byron Bay locals are on high alert after a man aged in his 20s tested positive. Pictured are medical staff have their temperature checked outside the Byron Surf club in Byron Bay on Wednesday
There were no plans to close the NSW-Queensland border, nor plans to tighten restrictions further, she told reporters.
Ms Berejiklian had warned earlier this week that NSW should brace itself for new infections after a three-day lockdown was imposed on Greater Brisbane.
Cases have also been identified as visiting Gold Coast and Toowoomba.
She also urged people in NSW to cancel any Easter holidays to Queensland, warning them they could get trapped there if the Brisbane lockdown was extended.
A number of public health alerts have been issued for venues in the Byron Bay area, which is gearing up to host thousands of revellers for Bluesfest, which is scheduled to go ahead this weekend.
NSW Health is working with Bluesfest organisers regarding the event.
Byron Bay remains on high alert after one new case was recorded in NSW. Pictured are queues at a testing clinic in Byron bay on Tuesday