Covid breach fears as Qld schoolies hit Byron
A top cop says he and his fellow officers aren't the 'fun' police, but has warned teen revellers they face action if they breach COVID-19 restrictions in Schoolies hotspot Byron Bay.
While official Schoolies celebrations have been scrapped, police say they are still bracing for 'thousands' of school-leavers to hit Byron from this weekend and are planning a major blitz to ensure compliance with public health orders.
They warn they will be cracking down on large gatherings and beachfront dance parties.
"This year is different - this is not Schoolies as you know it," Tweed-Byron Police District commander, Superintendent Dave Ropnell said.
"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.
"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 to re-open early next week, we are expecting thousands of school leavers to come to our area.
"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, and we all have to do our bit to stop the spread."
Supt Ropnell said police would be enforcing gathering limits of 20 people in private homes and short-stay rentals and 30 people outdoors.
"While we will be enforcing the Public Health Orders, police want to remind school leavers that we aren't here to ruin the fun,' he said.
"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."
Supt Ropnell said all Byron locals and visitors were asked to watched out for increased pedestrian activity.
Originally published as Covid breach fears as Qld schoolies hit Byron