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Byron Shire
May 6, 2021

Not good enough

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Liz Levy, Suffolk Park

The scenes that were visited upon the small residential community of beachside Suffolk Park over Easter endangered our health to an extent that was just not good enough. Though abated somewhat, there is nothing to suggest this will not continue into the future.

If the COVID-19 measures put in place by the National Cabinet are designed to minimise travel and concentrated  human contact, the cars (about half with Queensland number plates) crammed in beachside car parks and overflowing into Alcorn Street and other side streets shows their implementation near me to be an abysmal and dangerous failure.

In this we have been let down by every level of government.

Byron Shire Councillors closure of the Main Beach and Clarke’s Beach car parks and hangouts was commendable. Crazy scenes documented by the ABC at Broken Head Reserve car park led to its closure. The patently foreseeable consequence was the overwhelming of car parks, streets and beaches in those smaller areas with remaining vehicular accessibility.

This was in evidence on weekends well before Easter and before Queensland closed its beaches from the Gold Coast to Coolangatta.

At state government level we have the unconscionable actions of the Queensland government warning of strict new border controls – but these are a farce with a quick online application.

Those who hoped visitors to Byron Shire (supposedly a hotspot) might be deterred by 14 days quarantine should look again on the relevant designated list. It seems different definitions of ‘hot spot’ apply within different states. For Queensland look here.

As for our own State guardians, we have had Gladys remaining mute to this farce, silence from Ben Franklin and acquiescence from Tamara Smith.

Federal? As stated by the Chief Medical Officer, emergency powers enable localised measures over and beyond state boundaries where needed. I’m tired of every level passing off what’s happening in northern NSW as someone else’s responsibility. It seems we just don’t count.

Nor is it just communities like my small one affected. Every new infection, initially isolated, has multiplier potential – within the shire, south, west and to Brisbane and beyond.

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  1. Local doctors regard Byron as a hotspot for COVID-19 due to the influx of backpackers. Social distancing practiced by backpackers. Forget it. Just stay completely clear.

  2. Thx Harry but firstly it’s not just backpackers – not sure where they are all coming from but I’m sure they are more than just the locals and nearby.

    I don’t have anything against any of them except the way they are ignoring the requests to: exercise and leave and avoid travel. This disregard has the effect of bringing in a much wider influx of potential infection sources. Quite a high potential I would suggest if those arriving believe this social compact doesn’t include them and are behaving everywhere accordingly. It hasn’t stopped either with Easter.

    It’s not just a matter of ‘staying away’. The mixed blessing of the booming weekend business in the small shopping centre leaves staff and all of us exposed to any unfortunate infectious legacies they leave behind to multiply. Business is great but so is expediting getting on top of the pandemic and back to greater normality.

    Finally, if people can’t stay away it would be good if they could observe a few basic courtesies to others attempting to exercise on the beach mainly regarding the paths (barely 2 metres wide).

    Don’t hang around their entrances or stand chatting holding up the posts on the beach side.
    Go through in single file and stay to the left – your kids included
    If you want to stand gazing out to sea do it well off the path
    This applies to locals also , young and old

    I have some faith in the science-based measures that have changed our exponential trajectory to something lots less horrific. It may be all an overreaction but if so, these measures won’t cost anybody much. If on the money they could save lives.

    If Council is likewise convinced, could they please do something about the makeshift van park that spontaneously materialised at Gaggin Park each weekend.


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