Byron, Tweed and Kempsey Shires to enter lockdown after positive case visited area
Byron, Tweed and Kempsey Shires will re-enter lockdown for seven days after a positive coronavirus case visited NSW’s north.
The lockdown will begin on Tuesday at 5pm, Health Minister Brad Hazzard confirmed.
“Unfortunately we've had some cases in the northern part of the state, in Tweed, and Byron Bay and in Kempsey,” he said.
“And I certainly encourage everyone those areas, take it very seriously. So far those areas have been relatively safe.”
Byron mayor Michael Lyon told NCA NewsWire before the press conference: “It’s inevitable, I can’t see it going any other way.”
The infected person who visited the area had a not broken any rules by doing so, Mr Hazzard said.
“As I understand it it was somebody who had travelled into that area with a proper permit,” he said.
The person had tested negative for the virus upon arrival in Byron Bay.
Fragments of the virus have also been found in sewage catchments in Ballina and Wardell, also in northern NSW.
There are currently no active cases in those areas, sparking fears of more positive tests to come.
The stay-at-home orders will apply to anyone who has been to Kempsey since September 14, and to Byron and Tweed since September 18.
The rules will be the same as the ones that apply in other regional communities under lockdown.
“Everyone in the affected (local government areas) must stay at home unless it is for an essential reason, which includes shopping for food, medical care, getting vaccinated, compassionate needs, exercise and work or tertiary education if you can’t work or study at home,” NSW Health said in a statement.
However the “picnic rule” that came into effect for fully vaccinated people last week will still apply.
That means those people can gather outdoor for exercise or recreation in groups of five as long as everyone is vaccinated.
Byron, Tweed and Kempsey were among the regional communities that benefited from eased restrictions for the fully vaccinated a little over a week ago.
It meant businesses like pubs and hairdressers opened to the double-jabbed under restrictions similar to those that will apply in the whole state once NSW manages to fully vaccinate 70 per cent of the population.
But Deputy Premier John Barilaro warned regional communities that hadn’t had any cases could be locked down again if even a single local infection emerged.
Since Mr Barilaro made that announcement on September 10, six other regional council areas have been put under lockdown: Yass, Albury, Lismore, Glen Innes, Hilltops, and Cowra.
NSW Health said in its statement that the length of the lockdown would be determined by the number of people who get tested and vaccinated.
“A strong response to testing will be a key factor in determining if these stay-at-home orders are extended beyond one week. High vaccination rates are also essential to reduce the risk of transmission and protect the health and safety of the community,” the health department said.
More to come.
Originally published as Byron, Tweed and Kempsey Shires to enter lockdown after positive case visited area
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