This morning, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard spoke to journalists about the current COVID situation, including the man tested positive in Byron Bay.
During what has become Gladys Berejiklian’s daily press conference, the Premier said that tragically, there were three deaths related to the Delta strain until 8pm last night.
Ms Berejiklian said that Canterbury-Bankstown remains the central area where COVID is spreading, with cases still increasing. ‘We have seen stabilisation and substantial decline in areas like Fairfield, so communities that are responding to the health orders and responding to what we’re asking them to do are seeing a decline in the local government area. Pleasingly, there are no additional cases in Armidale and no additional cases in Tamworth.
‘The North Coast is investigating one potential additional case but that’s not linked to the gentleman in Byron Bay.’
When NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard spoke he gave mixed messages about reasonable excuses to leave home and was evasive about the man who tested positive for COVID in Byron Bay.
‘People know what is right and what is wrong,’ he said. ‘And we expect people to do the right thing.
‘Clearly, the rule is now that you shouldn’t just travel from one house to another just for the sake of moving to the other house. You should choose the property you’re living in and stay there.
‘But I have to say that no matter what legal orders or legal requirements are in place, you just can’t legislate against stupidity, arrogance and entitlement.’
Mr Hazzard was specifically asked about the man who travelled to Byron Bay. He responded, ‘Yeah, well, all I’m prepared to say about our traveller to Byron, is that the police are looking extremely closely at what he was doing in that area. And I trust the police will be able to take appropriate action in due course.’
Mr Hazzard was then asked if under the current restrictions, inspecting a property in Byron was legal. He said that there are matters where one has to be a little bit cautious. ‘I’m not going to prejudice, either the police investigations, or the police actions…
The forces of the law are coming after you
‘There are other communities, other people from other backgrounds, who don’t seem to think that it’s necessary to comply with the law and who don’t really give great consideration to what they do in terms of its impact on the rest of the community. And I would say to them, you really need to, because otherwise the forces of the law are coming after you.’
Mr Hazzard was asked if it was true that the man was not open with authorities about where he had been. One journalist said it’s been reported he’s ‘not a believer in COVID’ as such. ’Is he refusing to cooperate, is that the case?’
Mr Hazzard said he was very conscious of the fact that when police are undertaking investigations, they should be allowed to complete those investigations. ‘Hopefully, any activity that might have been inappropriate or illegal will be dealt with by the police and the courts.’
The minister was then asked if it was true that the man was not cooperating with NSW Health and that he tried to leave hospital last night. ‘I’m not prepared to comment,’ said Mr Hazzard.
Every individual should comply with NSW Health
‘Except to say, that every individual should comply with [NSW] Health. When Health ask you questions it’s to try and save you and your family and your friends and your community. So… you should actually be very open with with them. As to police, well, if the police have come after you, it’s for a reason, generally, and at that point all I’ll say is that we should leave the police to their investigations.’
Mr Hazzard was asked about the contact tracing and the snap lockdown – ’Is it frustrating that you don’t know where the COVID exposure sites are, so you’ve got North Coast communities in the dark, not knowing when they close contacts? Also, why was the North Coast put into lockdown with only one hour’s notice?’
The Health Minister responded, ‘If we declare an area that’s going to go into lockdown or an area of concern, we can expect that there’ll be a lot of people who will do the right thing and come out and want to be tested. So we need to make sure that we’ve covered off on all of those aspects.
Sometimes the risk comes from the unknown
‘But at the end of the day, when we’ve weighed all those things up and we think there’s a real risk, and sometimes the risk comes from the unknown…
‘I’m not indicating that this is the case, but if for example we were dealing with someone who was not cooperating and not giving us the information we needed, then you could imagine that the government would move more quickly in that situation to make sure we locked down as fast as possible to keep safe.
‘Can I also say that any of those situations, in regard to Northern Rivers, we also talked to the local community representatives, and so I spoke to each of the three MPs up there as well as others, and they are across the political spectrum, and they were very very keen to see their community safeguarded by moving to a fast lockdown. I think that explains it sufficiently,’ said Mr Hazzard.
There is no news yet about the man’s children who were travelling with him.
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