'Extra high alert': NSW Covid case emerges ahead of Easter weekend

Josh Dutton
·News Reporter
·4-min read

Northern NSW is on "extra high alert" after a new coronavirus case linked to the Brisbane outbreak was reported last night.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the positive Covid case is a man who attended the same Byron Bay venue as the hen's party, of which six people including a Brisbane nurse had tested positive.

The case came through after 8pm on Tuesday meaning it was not part of Wednesday's official numbers.

The members of the party attended the Byron Beach Hotel on Friday last week leading to the man, aged in his 20s, becoming infected.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian addresses the media in Sydney, Australia.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Source: Getty Images

Easter restrictions for Byron and surrounding areas

"Byron, Ballina, Tweed and Lismore shires are on extra high alert," the premier said.

"We know through this one case of community transmission that there could be others. Until the end of Easter, those four local government areas will be subject to some restrictions.

"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. 

"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. Secondly, all venues in those four local government areas, will resort to the four square metre rule and we ask for everybody to stay seated and not stand."

Masks will also be required in these areas.

The premier added she does not plan to close borders but discouraged people inside the four LGAs to not travel over Easter.

Ms Berejiklian said "pleasingly" three members of the man's house have been tested for Covid-19 and all returned negative tests.

She also warned people on Tuesday to "brace ourselves" as she anticipated NSW would get Covid-19 cases from Queensland.

People lining up to be tested at a walk-through Covid testing site at the Surf Life Saving Club in Byron Bay, Australia.
People lining up to be tested at the Surf Life Saving Club in Byron Bay on Monday. Source: Getty Images

The Byron Beach Hotel case and other venues

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the man who became infected was at the pub with three of his friends.

"Three of those friends have already been tested and were negative and this gentleman promptly, on hearing about this issue, presented for testing immediately did the right thing, in terms of self-isolation," Dr Chant said.

Dr Chant said the man visited the Henry Rous Tavern in Ballina on Sunday between 1.20-2.20pm and Ballina Golf and Sports Club that same afternoon from 2.25-2.35pm.

“What we are asking people to do, if you attended those venues, please immediately self-isolate and get a test and we will be advising you after we have done that formal risk assessment.,” she said.

“People who had signed into the Henry Rous Tavern in the vicinity of this gentleman would have been texted last night at around 9(pm) and they would have been advised to take this action.”

A Covid-19 socially distant warning sign on Main Beach on March 29, 2021 in Byron Bay, Australia.
A sign warns people at Byron Bay's Main Beach so socially distance. Source: Getty Images

Music festival given the green light

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he has spoken with organisers of the annual Byron Bay Bluesfest will go ahead as planned but he had a number of concerns.

“It is difficult, it would have been better if the Bluesfest had been perhaps in another few months instead of right now,” he said.

“Or it would have been better if we didn't have a hen's party in Byron Bay that appears to have brought down our more secure north coast area into a highly suspect area now. 

"At this point, all I can say to those people who might be intending to attend and to the organisers themselves, which I have expressed to them personally, but to those who might be intending to come, just be alert to the messages that will come from the New South Wales Government in the next 12-24 hours as we look at the unfolding situation on the north coast."

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