Tweed-Byron Police District Commander Dave Roptell said this year’s celebrations had to be COVID-safe, with officers ready to enforce all public health orders and to conduct regular business compliance checks.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
He said the reopening of the NSW-Queensland border to residents of regional NSW, and next week’s reopening of the NSW-Victoria border, meant police were expecting thousands of school-leavers to flock to the area.
Public health orders in NSW state that a maximum of 30 people can gather in a public place, such as parks and beaches, at one time.
Only 20 people are allowed at private residences, including rental accommodation, across NSW, and Superintendent Roptell said police would enforce those restrictions.
Police can issue on-the-spot fines of $1000 for public health order breaches.
Officers will also target drug and alcohol-related crime, as well as anti-social behaviour.
Gold Coast Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said police were expecting fewer schoolies than in previous years, but were still expecting several thousand young people to arrive from Friday.
Superintendent Wheeler said police would patrol and respond to complaints around parties in units and hotel rooms, and warned young people that a public health declaration would be in effect.
“People who are in control of short-term accommodation, that’s the people who’ve booked that accommodation, need to be very mindful that they only have the capacity allowed in that room,” he said.
“There is a $1334 fine attached if you’re found to be breaching the direction from the Chief Health Officer.”
In Queensland, 50 people can gather in a private residence, including short-term rentals, but there is a specific direction that only the people listed on the agreement can stay overnight.
With Stuart Layt
Megan Gorrey is the Urban Affairs reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.