Reality series Love Island could be dumped by Byron Bay, as the council looks to revoke approval for the multi-million dollar production after a Covid-19 case was linked to another show being filmed in the region.
The first episode of Nine’s popular dating program is due to air in two weeks with filming scheduled to start this weekend at a mansion in the hinterland area of Federal, which has been under construction for the past month.
Byron Shire Council previously boasted about the $5 million boost the production would pump into the local economy.
But Byron Mayor Michael Lyon has had a change of heart, announcing his intentions to shut the show down in a desperate bid to keep the region Covid-free.
Break-up triggered by snap lockdown
Byron Bay and the Tweed Shire on the NSW Far North Coast were plunged into a seven-day lockdown earlier this week after a crew member working on the set of 10’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Outta Here tested positive for Covid-19.
NSW Police have since charged a 31-year-old woman with alleged breaches of the Public Health Order in the state’s north.
“She allegedly attended several businesses and venues in Byron Bay and Kingscliff over the weekend, which was in breach of the conditions of her exemption,” a statement read.
Both shows are made by ITV Studios Australia.
Mayor lashes out on social media
“I am looking into our options this morning to rescind council approval for the Love Island production, from the same studios that brought I'm a Celebrity, and Covid, to the region,” Mr Lyon posted to Facebook.
“As part of that approval issued recently, which allows them to film for longer than 30 days in Federal, I insisted on a 14-day isolation period whereby any cast or crew coming from an area with cases would not come into contact with people from our region.
“It is clear that this is not possible to implement given what has happened in the last few days. Council approval was only one part of the process, it hasn't yet had Ministerial approval so I'd say it is unlikely to proceed.”
Mr Lyon said it was “devastating” to be back under strict stay-at-home orders and that he hoped calls for tighter restrictions for authorised workers might finally be heeded.
Post ignites community debate
His post was swiftly inundated with comments, sparking a heated debate amongst Byron locals.
Some applauded his tough stance, with one person writing: “I don’t think it should be approved, every time one of these people come here and thinks the rules don’t apply send us in to lockdown. It costs locals financially, it creates havoc on the border. We need to stop them from coming here.”
Another said: “Go ahead and rescind permission please. This company is contemptuous of our community and have caused enormous hardship for many!”
But others argued the benefits outweighed the risks.
“One young girl makes a silly mistake. Haven’t we all done something really stupid.
"But these productions bring jobs to our locals, work for the supporting family businesses that are already struggling and money into the economy...Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” one person warned.
Another took aim at the region’s low vaccination rates.
“As we get to higher vaccination rates this won’t be a problem except up here where we probably won’t. Can’t place ridiculous restrictions on visitors because the community won’t protect itself.”
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