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Byron Shire
December 1, 2023

COVID-19 fines issued while mask sign legalities unclear

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As the Greater Sydney area heads into further lockdown, local health authorities say a known COVID-19 infected case stopped at Chinderah truck stop at the Ampol service station (northbound), 112 Tweed Valley Way, near Murwillumbah turnoff.

The confirmed case is known to have used the truck drivers’ toilets, showers and lounge, and the food court between 8.30pm on July 13 and 7.30am on July 14, according to NSW Health.

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A Health District statement, released on Monday, says more than 40 people are now self-isolating.

Meanwhile, Tweed-Byron police say they fined a 25-year-old Main Arm man $1,000 for breaching state Public Health Orders over the weekend.

Byron Detective Chief Inspector Matt Kehoe said the man hosted a ‘large party’ at his property in defiance of orders limiting household guests in the region to five.  

Inspector Kehoe said police were continuing to enforce compliance throughout the region and to engage with health authorities.

A 46-year-old Sydney woman was self-isolating in the Tweed Shire for fourteen days after breaching stay-at-home orders, Inspector Kehoe said.

She was now complying with public health orders and police were still investigating the matter, the inspector said.

Officers also charged a 48-year-old Tweed Shire man $200 for refusing to wear a mask when visiting the Tweed Heads Police Station over the weekend.

Inspector Kehoe said police stations are under the same rules as businesses and other workplaces, in that anyone entering the buildings has to wear a mask unless officially exempted, and had to register via QR codes at point of entry.

He said the accused man refused to comply with the orders but didn’t have an exemption.

Op shop closes

The police Report on Public Health Order Compliance in the region comes after volunteers at an Anglican Church op shop in Byron Bay said they were shutting shop doors, owing to abuse and vandalism from customers who didn’t want to wear a mask. 

A vollie from the church told The Echo they are wanting to reopen, and are looking for more vollies. 

Inspector Kehoe said, ‘I understand some elderly ladies received some abuse and that’s very disappointing,’ he told The Echo.

Police deny shutting down Lulu’s cafe

Meanwhile, rumours were circulating that renowned Mullumbimby cafe, Lulu’s, was forced to shut its doors owing to non-compliance with COVID-19 health directives.

Inspector Kehoe confirmed police and health authorities visited the cafe on ‘a number of occasions’ over the past week.

The Echo understands the owner of Lulu’s has said they have a medical exemption from wearing a facemask, but Inspector Kehoe said the lack of compliance was in relation to both staff and customers on the premises.

He said police didn’t have the power to close businesses over non-compliance with public health orders, but that it was possible health authorities or Council workers had taken action.

Police say they could fine business owners up to $10,000 for failing to comply with COVID-19 health directives, and Inspector Kehoe said local officers continued to receive and investigate reports of breaches in the region.

Inspector Kehoe said police were seeking clarification from State health authorities on whether or not signs displayed by some businesses in Mullumbimby stating ‘no mask, we don’t ask’ were considered legal.

He said the onus was on property owners and business managers to enquire as to whether or not visitors had exemptions, but that nobody was legally obliged to provide proof, even to police.

The inspector said the lack of clarity regarding mask enforcement was an issue for local officers, but that most buildings were privately owned and therefore nobody asked to leave for failing to wear a mask had the right to refuse the request.

According to www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules/face-mask-rules, ‘Officers will only issue penalty notices if you clearly refuse to wear a mask without a lawful reason’.

‘If you have a condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, you may wish to ask your registered health practitioner or disability care provider to issue a letter confirming this. 

‘However, this is not a requirement under the Public Health Order.

‘In other circumstances, if you are eating or drinking, or there is an emergency, you will not be expected to continue wearing a mask’.

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  1. So…….the 25 year old Main Arm man was ‘breach health orders’ but the ‘large party’ of guests weren’t ?????????
    Who is in charge of the arbitrary choice, of whether police bother to enforce the law ?
    Call me naive but I always thought laws should be equally obeyed and enforced , you know justice ?!!!…… And is this the root cause and driver of rampant police corruption ?
    Cheers, G”)

  2. The anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers should realise:-
    1) This is not going to go away for years and maybe decades
    2) Vaccinated, masked people will be allowed to travel including overseas as well as on trains and buses; attend large gatherings eg sport, concerts, festivals, parties; use public transport; use the gym. etc Anti -vaxxers and anti-maskers will be banned
    3) Their un-vaccinated, un-masked children may one day be banned from school ( un-vaccinated pre-schoolers already are)
    Wouldn’t it be better if these people followed the true science, dropped the fake news rubbish and co-operated in the community effort to stop people getting sick and dying.?
    Don’t believe me — read the UK press and see this is already happening there.

  3. I can not believe that ‘so called’ community minded people , do not want to protect their fellow comrades ?? Even if you object, can’t you swallow your pride & DO IT for others around you? If this wasn’t an issue that didn’t seriously impact upon the rest of us, I wouldn’t give a rats what people decide to do. Hello! this is a worldwide pandemic it is NOT just the flu. The UK is in deep manure & infections are rising rapidly, Thank You Boris you bogan. Do those refusing to wear a mask or believe that these vaccines are sent from the devil, believe that millions of people across the globe FAKED THEIR DEATHS ???? ALL THOSE TRAGIC IMAGES OF PEOPLE IN New York /ITALY / INDIA gasping for breath & their loved ones shattered….is that FAKE news ? Seriously this is why I prefer non human primates much of the time.


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