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TravelGuides – Byron Bay hostel in week-long Covid lockdown as school leavers arrive to party | Byron Bay

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TravelGuides – Byron Bay hostel in week-long Covid lockdown as school leavers arrive to party | Byron Bay

More than 80 backpackers at a Byron Bay hostel on the New South Wales north coast have been placed into a week-long lockdown after a guest tested positive to Covid-19.

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The lockdown comes as thousands of celebrating school leavers are due to arrive in Byron Bay and other parts of northern NSW over the next month from this weekend.

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The Ballina state MP, Tamara Smith, posted on Facebook on Wednesday night about the situation at the Aquarius Backpackers.

“I’m closely monitoring a situation in Byron Bay this evening where a positive Covid-19 case and 84 close contacts have been identified at Aquarius Backpackers in Byron Bay,” she said.

NSW Health has locked down the hostel for seven days, impacting 84 guests. “I’m told [they are] being supported with food, health and support,” Smith said.

NSW police have placed a 24-hour guard on the hostel to ensure compliance. “My thoughts are with everyone in that situation as it will be a tough time,” Smith said.

Thousands of higher school certificate students are about to descend on the resort town for schoolies celebrations.

Some 80.9% of residents in the Byron Bay local government area are fully vaccinated. Although high, the coverage rate lags the state average of 92%.

Police are due to hold a press conference on Thursday about the launch of the force’s schoolies operation in the Tweed/Byron district.

Officers say they will be conducting a high-visibility operation targeting drug and alcohol-related crime and antisocial behaviour.

Australia's Covid pandemic in 60 seconds: NSW and Sydney map – video
Australia’s Covid pandemic in 60 seconds: NSW and Sydney map – video

Meanwhile, unvaccinated year 12 students have been granted an exemption to attend year 12 formals, dinners or graduations.

The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, said the 2021 cohort “had an incredibly tough 18 months”. “They deserve to be able to party with their friends and enjoy one of the biggest celebrations of their life,” he said on Thursday.

The exemption means year 12 students who have not been vaccinated will be able to celebrate with their friends if they abide by the public health requirements of the venue they’re attending.

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The NSW government’s Covid-19 cabinet subcommittee will meet on Thursday to consider if a mask mandate will be extended beyond 15 December.

The government’s roadmap out of lockdown says restrictions will ease when NSW reaches 95% double vaccination or on 15 December – whichever comes first.

That’s when the lockout of unvaccinated people will end and masks will only be required on public transport, planes and airports and for indoor, front-of-house hospitality staff.

There are reports that NSW Health bureaucrats are pushing to keep masks mandatory in shops during the entire festive season.

TravelGuides – Byron Bay hostel in week-long Covid lockdown as school leavers arrive to party | Byron Bay

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