A message from senior officers at Tweed/Byron Police District for 2020 end of school celebrations is reminding school leavers from across NSW and interstate who have travelled to Byron Bay and other parts of Northern NSW to stay COVID-Safe.
While there are no formal events associated with ‘Schoolies 2020’ occurring in the Byron Bay area, police are expecting thousands of school leavers in town to mark the end of their 13-years of schooling.
In anticipation of the large crowds, Tweed/Byron Police District will conduct an extensive and high-visibility operation for the duration of the ‘schoolies’ period – assisted by the Richmond Police District and other Northern Region commands, the Public Order and Riot Squad, Northern Operational Support Group officers, the Mounted Unit, the Police Dog Unit, Traffic and Highway Patrol, and the Youth Command and PCYC.
Celebrations must be conducted in a COVID-Safe environment
Tweed/Byron Police District Officer in Charge at Byron Bay, Detective Chief Inspector Matt Kehoe said this year’s celebrations must be conducted in a COVID-Safe environment, with officers to enforce all current Public Health Orders and conduct regular business compliance checks.
‘With the NSW and Queensland border now re-open to regional NSW, Byron Bay is included in that zone. And with the border between NSW and Victoria now open, we are expecting thousands of school leavers to maintain their original bookings and come to Byron.’
‘The NSW Police Force continues to work closely with health officials and other government agencies, businesses and the community to manage the COVID-19 crisis and minimise the spread of the virus.
‘In saying that, we have a very clear message to those choosing to come to Byron in 2020 – this year is very different, there will be no large gatherings, no dance parties in the park.
Social distancing is the new normal
Detective Chief Inspector Matt Kehoe said social distancing is the new normal, and we all have to do our bit to stop the spread.
‘The risk of community transmission is still present here in Australia, and with people from interstate expected to come to Byron, school leavers need to be extremely aware of the dangers of COVID-19.
‘Public Health Orders currently state that no more than 20 persons can be inside a home at any one time – this includes short-stay accommodation. The orders also state that up to 30 people can be gathered in a public space at any one time, this includes places such as parks, beaches and so on.
‘While we will be enforcing the Public Health Orders, police want to remind school leavers that we aren’t here to ruin the fun – our officers are here to protect you and keep you safe; approach police or authorities if you are in danger, if you feel threatened or you are a victim of any type of crime.
‘Not only will police be ensuring Public Health Orders are being followed, but officers will be targeting drug and alcohol-related crime, as well as anti-social behaviour.
Know your limits and look out for your mates
‘Drugs and alcohol impair your judgement and can lead to risky behaviours or choices which can impact the rest of your life. Know your limits and look out for your mates.
‘With the increase in activity in the Byron town centre, we are urging all visitors and locals alike to plan ahead; those not joining in the celebrations are asked to watch out for increased pedestrian activity and keep an eye out on the roads.
‘As always, if you’re planning on drinking – you need a Plan B to get yourself home.
‘We know this has been an extremely tough year for HSC students, and we appreciate that school leavers want to have a memorable time. However, these are not normal times, so we ask anyone coming to the far north coast to be respectful – we have come this far in managing COVID-19 in our regional communities, let’s not undo all our hard work now,’ said Det Ch Insp Kehoe.
Police say the NSW police force continues to work closely with other key stakeholders, which include Byron Shire Council, Dept of Health, NSW Ambulance, Byron Youth Service and Red Frog volunteers, and other government agencies, businesses and the community to minimise disruption and maintain a COVID-Safe environment.
For all information related to schoolies during COVID-19, visit the website: www.schoolies.com/covid-19-faq.
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