COVID BATTLE RAMPS UP: Police, health officials join forces
POLICE and health officials have joined forces in an effort to get people to stay at home this Easter break and prevent the spread of coronavirus on the Northern Rivers.
With Byron Bay already named a state "hot spot", what happens during the holiday period is crucial.
"Now is not the time to have a holiday on the North Coast," Richmond Police District commander, Superintendent Toby Lindsay, said.
"People should only be out if they are going to work, seeking medical attention, caring for another, for food or exercise,
"Police will be patrolling coastal areas to make sure people stay away and stay home.
"We have Operation Tortoise in play and have had one male fined $1000 so far."
Supt Lindsay said police had spoken to all holiday providers in the region, and all of these businesses were co-operating and understood their obligations.
"We have councils and a range of other government agencies working with us to ensure the community is safe," he said.
Coronavirus testing in Byron Bay that was initially for backpackers and at-risk community residents, has now been now expanded to include all residents in the shire.
The clinic is located at Byron Central Hospital and will be open all long weekend between 10am and 4pm.
Meanwhile, restrictions to visitors at Northern NSW hospitals have been ramped up, and will now include temperature screening.
Wayne Jones, chief executive of the Northern NSW Local Health District, confirmed the measure was now in place.
Visitors will also be asked three questions:
● Have you returned from overseas in the past 14 days?
● Have you had close contact with a person confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19?
● Are you feeling unwell with any flu-like symptoms?
"Anyone answering yes to any of these questions, or having a temperature of 38 degrees or above, will not be permitted to enter," Mr Jones said.
Only one visitor is allowed per patient, with hospital visiting hours restricted to 1-6pm.
The new measures come as the number of coronavirus patients in Northern NSW hit 51 on Thursday.
Tweed and Byron local government areas held the lion's share of cases, with 14 people infected in each shire.
Next, there were eight patients from the Clarence Valley, seven from Ballina, six from Lismore, and between one and four in Richmond Valley and Tenterfield areas respectively.