Authorities are helping businesses prepare as the schoolies surge hits Byron while the Queensland border remains shut to NSW revellers.
A joint operation between SafeWork NSW, Liquor & Gaming NSW and NSW Police is under way to help hospitality businesses prepare for the influx of young people and the potential risks of COVID transmission in an area with some of the lowest vaccination rates in the state.
Byron Bay has consistently recorded lower than average vaccination rates, despite 95 per cent of NSW residents aged 16 and older now double dosed.
SafeWork NSW is on the ground visiting cafes, restaurants, bars, and hotels during daylight hours to verify that venues are complying with the COVID public health orders.
SafeWork Regional Director, Scott Murray, said SafeWork is educating hospitality businesses about their legal obligations to keep workers and visitors safe.
“This is the first time since the last outbreak that visitation has peaked in the holiday epicentres of the north, so we need businesses to take the risks seriously,” Mr Murray said.
NSW Police and Liquor & Gaming NSW are conducting their visits at night to check businesses remain COVID compliant and are adhering to their licence conditions under the liquor laws.
Liquor & Gaming Director of Compliance, Dimitri Argeres, said accommodation bookings are at capacity and with travel limited by border closures, Byron is a major hotspot this year.
“The HSC is done and young people have had another tough year of lockdowns so we expect they will be keen to let off steam,” Mr Argeres said.
“Wherever you plan on going, whether it’s Byron, Sydney or somewhere off the beaten track, just remember to keep your personal safety and that of others front of mind.
“It wouldn’t hurt to remind businesses that while they’ve done it tough too, it’s your licence and reputation at stake when people take their partying too far.”
All three agencies have powers to issue warnings and fines to businesses and police are also on the lookout for intoxication and other alcohol-related offences.
Schoolies is just the start of a massive season for the region with more than one million visitors expected to visit Byron between now and Christmas.