Schoolies influx in Byron could be a ‘recipe for disaster’
THERE'S no doubt 2020 has been a difficult year for Year 12 students.
But local authorities have urged Schoolies planning to celebrate the end of their high school years in Byron Bay to wait a bit longer before visiting the North Coast.
Byron mayor Simon Richardson, Tweed Byron Police District Acting Superintendent Cameron Lindsay, Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones and Byron Bay lifeguard supervisor Steve Mills joined forces to get their message out on Monday.
Along with asking Schoolies to wait before they celebrate to help prevent new COVID-19 cases in northern NSW, Cr Richardson has called for short term holiday letting providers to be bound by the same COVID-19 safety plans which hotels and other formalised accommodation houses must now have in place.
"If you can reschedule, we'd love to see you at another time," Cr Richardson said.
"Any wave of visitors that jeopardises (our community's safety) concerns us."
He said it could be a "recipe for disaster" if short term holiday rental houses don't adopt COVID-19 safety measures, as limited activities may encourage visitors to instead host house parties.
Act. Supt Lindsay and Mr Jones said there would be sufficient policing and health resources to handle any Schoolies influx, but they still urged graduates to stay away if they can.
There have been a total of 58 COVID-19 cases recorded in the Northern NSW Local Health District; all of those have now recovered.
Act. Supt Lindsay said police would take action against any gatherings over the current limit of 20 people.
"What (people) used to think Schoolies would look like at Byron Bay is just not going to occur this year," he said.
He said "significant resources" would also be focused on road safety during the traditional Schoolies period.
Mr Mills said Schoolies postponing their trip would help to keep Byron's beaches COVID-safe.
"Byron Bay is a beautiful place to come to for Schoolies but now's not the time to come with the current situation," he said.
For anyone who does still visit, he stressed alcohol and drugs don't mix well with the surf.