Police are investigating after two large gatherings in the Byron Shire over the weekend.
Police are investigating after two large gatherings in the Byron Shire over the weekend.

'Staggeringly irresponsible' to have 1000 people at party

UPDATE, 4pm: POLICE hope northern NSW won't see a second wave of COVID-19 cases after officers were called to two large gatherings.

Tweed Byron Police District Detective Chief Inspector Matt Kehoe said police were called to a party involving more than 1000 people on Saturday night.

He said police took action against one person for drink-driving.

But they have "certainly not ruled out" further charges or fines based on the NSW's Public Health Orders.

At present, private events at NSW homes or properties can have a maximum of 20 visitors.

Outdoor gatherings are under the same limit, as of July 1.

"We have also spoken to a property owner and our inquiries are ongoing," Insp Kehoe said.

The same night, police attended a Byron Bay property for a noise complaint and found more than 100 people present.

Insp Kehoe said police "took action … in regards to noise complaints and advised the occupant they were in breach of the order".

"They complied with that and the party was finished fairly quickly," he said.

He said the Wilsons Creek party was winding up as police arrived.

Insp Kehoe said he was concerned to see people ignoring the rules in such a brazen manner and hoped it wouldn't spark a second wave for the region, which hasn't had a new COVID-19 diagnosis for months.

"The Health Minister's directions are in place for a reason," he said.

"Anybody flouting those restrictions does place anyone in the community at risk."

Insp Kehoe said as school holidays get under way, police will be ensuring residents or visitors to northern NSW are doing the right thing.

"Police will be out on the roads and in and around the community," he said.

"We will continue to monitor the Health Minister's restrictions to ensure Byron does remain safe."

Although there have been some gatherings including protests in Mullumbimby, Lismore, Byron Bay and Murwillumbah in recent weeks, Insp Kehoe said people across the region had mostly been well behaved during the pandemic.

"For the great majority of the time, people have really been complying with the restrictions," he said.

"Only the last two to three weeks, we have seen people break compliance and have some of those bigger parties, which place us all at risk."


Original story: PARTYGOERS have been criticised after police broke up two large gatherings at the weekend.

Mayor Simon Richardson last week urged visitors to the shire to stick to physical distancing rules and help to keep residents of the region safe.

But Tweed Byron Police District officers were required to break up massive gatherings in recent days.

One of the parties, at Wilsons Creek, is believed to have involved more than 1000 people.

Tweed Byron Police Detective Chief Inspector Matt Kehoe told the ABC police were also called to a house party in Byron Bay, where some 200 people were present.

Remaining COVID-19 related restrictions in NSW mean only 20 visitors are allowed in a home at any time.

Cr Richardson said the incidents were concerning.

"When we look at the horrible impact on residents of Melbourne due to the recent wave of community created cases it is almost unfathomable that someone could organise a party of such magnitude," he said.

"Though I don't know the particulars and it may have gotten out of the organisers' control, it is staggeringly irresponsible and dangerous, especially to our most at-risk locals.

"Let's adhere to the social gathering numbers and ride this out together.

"After this passes we can go back to doing what we do well: having good parties."

Insp Kehoe told the ABC the parties were "very disappointing".

"You can still have a good smaller party, but certainly don't go to the extremes that we've seen in the last few days," he said.

Fellow officer, Insp Mick Dempsey, said police were continuing to look into the parties.

"Inquiries are continuing in relation to the organisers," Insp Dempsey said.

"We are looking at it."

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