New health alerts for Byron Bay and Ballina as mayor admits coronavirus situation is ‘worrying’
The NSW North Coast remains on high alert for coronavirus, with health warnings issued for more venues in Byron Bay, Ballina, Lennox Head and Suffolk Park throughout Wednesday after a local man tested positive for COVID-19.
In an update issued late on Wednesday, NSW Health declared all retail and takeaway shops in most of downtown Byron Bay were an exposure site on Saturday afternoon.
Anyone who visited any of the venues, including but not limited to Black Sheep, Boards in the Bay and Tiger Lily, from 12pm to 4pm on March 27 must get tested immediately and self-isolate awaiting a negative result.
Authorities also added new venues in Lennox Head and Suffolk Park and strengthened their advice about a golf pro shop in East Ballina.
Speaking to Today on Wednesday, Byron Shire Council Mayor Simon Richardson said it had been a “worrying” few days as the region anxiously waited to see if cases would emerge.
“After all we’ve gone through to get to the Easter holidays and now to have this uncertainty hanging over our head – it’s a really worrying couple of days,” he said.
On Wednesday morning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed a local man in his 20s had tested positive to COVID-19 overnight.
The man had been at the Byron Beach Hotel on Friday night, seated near a group of Queensland women visiting for a hen’s party, a number of whom were infectious.
New health alerts have also been issued for a number of venues visited by the hen’s party on Saturday, encompassing all shops and takeaway spots on Lawson, Jonson, Browning and Fletcher streets in Byron Bay.
Anyone who visited those locations at the listed times is considered a casual contact of a COVID-19 case and is being directed to immediately get tested and isolate until receiving a negative result.
Anyone who was in the Byron Bay region at the weekend should check the NSW Health website for the full list of venues but the new advice is:
- Surfit 24/7 Epiq Gym, Lennox Head – Sunday, March 28 6am-11am. Get tested and self-isolate awaiting negative result
- Park Hotel/Motel – pub restaurant, Suffolk Park – Sunday, March 28, 1pm-2pm. Get tested and self-isolate awaiting negative result
- UPDATED Pro Shop, Ballina Golf and Sports Club, East Ballina – Sunday, March 28, 1pm-2pm. Attendees are considered close contacts and must get tested and self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result
- Henry Rous Tavern, Ballina – Sunday, March 28, 1.20pm-2.25pm. Get tested and self-isolate awaiting negative result
- All retail and takeaway shops on Lawson, Jonson, Bowning and Fletcher streets, Byron Bay – Saturday, March 27, 12pm-4pm. Get tested and self-isolate awaiting negative result (casual contact)
- Suffolk Park Bakery – Saturday, March 27, 11.15am-11.40am. Get tested and self-isolate awaiting negative result (casual contact)
Earlier, Mr Richardson said it was likely cases would arise in the Byron Bay area.
“You’d be naive to think that there won’t be any positive testing over the next week or two, because of course what comes out today will only be a snapshot for the last couple of days,” he said.
“As we know some of the positive cases can take a few days to emerge. I guess what we need to do is just find out the information as soon as we can and then respond appropriately.”
About 4000 people have come forward to be tested in the region, a result Mr Richardson described as “pleasing”.
“The queues, the very first day, were pretty long and arduous and tested the patience, but yesterday we rolled out a lot more testing stations and the queues were pretty manageable,” he said.
The new case prompted the cancelling of the popular Bluesfest music festival this weekend.
The shires of Byron, Ballina, Tweed and Lismore will be on “extra high alert” and will be subject to restrictions until the end of Easter.
These include limiting the number of people in private residences to 30 people, the return of the four-square-metre rule for venues and compulsory masks.