Richard Sandilands captured this shot of people flouting the social distancing rules at Cape Byron Lighthouse at sunset on Sunday.
Richard Sandilands captured this shot of people flouting the social distancing rules at Cape Byron Lighthouse at sunset on Sunday.

‘Have a heart, stay apart’: plea for community to help fight COVID-19

MANY people are doing the right thing.

But the minority who aren’t paying attention to social distancing guidelines have been urged to change their habits.
Hours after Byron Shire Council adopted sweeping changes in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at Thursday’s ordinary meeting, it’s understood a large group of people gathered, flouting the recommendations of health authorities, at Belongil Beach.

A large group was also pictured gathered at Cape Byron Lighthouse on Sunday evening.

Byron’s deputy mayor Sarah Ndiaye said the message was sinking in for most people.

“Social distancing is becoming the norm for most, but we’re still getting reports of some groups ignoring the recommendations and meeting in groups,” she said.
“We don’t want to have to close any more beaches, they’re an important place where people can get some fresh air and some exercise and walk our four-legged friends.
“So have a heart, stay apart and do the right thing.

“We have COVID-19 cases in Byron Shire now and it’s up top all of us to stop the virus from spreading.”

Surf Life Saving NSW yesterday announced all beach patrols would end immediately, one month earlier than scheduled.

While Bondi Beach was closed after crowds continued to gather there, no such move has been made on the Byron Coast.

According to NSW Health, five of the 22 confirmed cases on the Northern Rivers were in the Byron Shire at the time of publication.

While the council has closed outdoor playgrounds, pools, community halls and sporting centres and banned busking and similar activities, Mayor Simon Richardson said the police were the authority responsible for ensuring social distancing occurs.

“I support their efforts thus far,” Cr Richardson said.

“Some unfortunately seem like they will need to receive a fine to change their behaviour but thankfully they are an increasingly insignificant minority as most make changes to keep themselves and each other healthy.”

While many things have changed across the shire, he said the council’s works program was continuing, slashing of grassy areas is still being done and DAs are still being assessed.

It’s understood police have not recorded any compliance-related issued in the Tweed Byron Police District.

Police can fine you for breaching a public health order and under the Public Health Act, they can also direct you to provide your name and address if they suspect you’ve breached such an order or a Ministerial direction.

Current directions require 14 day self-quarantine for anyone returning to Australia, self isolation for those diagnoses with COVID-19, band on gatherings over 500 people outdoors and 100 people indoors, a minimum of four square metres for each person in any premises and have forced the closure of non-essential businesses, including pubs and clubs.

It’s recommended people also stay 1.5m apart.


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