NSW records local COVID case linked to Byron Bay hen’s party

NSW has recorded one new case of community transmission of COVID-19 today, plunging northern parts of the state into tougher restrictions over the Easter long weekend.

The new case is a man in his 20s who is believed to have contracted the virus while at the Byron Beach Hotel on Friday night.

NSW Health Minister Dr Kerry Chant said the man sat in “close proximity” to a group of women who were unknowingly infectious while celebrating a hen’s party at the venue.


“The case was a gentleman in his 20s who attended the Byron Beach Hotel with three other of his friends and he sat in proximity to the travellers from Queensland who were infectious at the time,” Dr Chant said.

NSW Health confirmed three of the man’s friends, who were also present at the Byron Beach Hotel during the same time, have been tested and returned negative results.

“Three of those friends have already been tested and were negative and this gentleman promptly, on hearing about this issue, presented for testing immediately did the right thing, in terms of self-isolation,” Dr Chant said.

As a result, everyone who attended the popular Byron Bay pub on the evening of Friday 26 March, is now being told to immediately get tested and quarantine for 14 days.

“Everyone at the Byron Beach Hotel will be asked to quarantine for the full 14 days and get a test at the beginning and that test that people have done – can I thank you for doing it so promptly, it helps us assess the risk of transmission in that venue, but you are required to stay in isolation for the full 14 days and we will be advising you to get a test prior to exiting your isolation period,” the Health Minister said.

Two venues in Ballina have also been put on alert, after the man visited the locations while unknowingly infectious on Sunday 28 March.

Anyone who has been to the venues at the times listed below is being told to immediately get tested and self-isolate and remain in isolation until further advice is provided by NSW Health.

The new case has plunged four shires into tougher restrictions until the end of Easter, in a bid to curb any potential spread of the virus.

Those in Byron Bay, Ballina, Tweed Heads and Lismore are being told to remain on “extra high alert” and to follow the rules listed below from 5pm today until 11:59pm on Monday 5 April.

  • Mask wearing will become compulsory on public transport, in retail stores, and in all public indoor settings
  • the one person per 4 square metre rule will apply at all public indoor settings including hospitality venues
  • the number of household visitors will be capped at 30 including holiday rental properties.

Meantime, a number of new casual contact venues associated with the Queensland cases have now also been identified.

Anyone who has been to the below locations at the listed times, is being told to get tested immediately and isolate until a negative result is received.

“Continue to monitor for symptoms and if they appear, get tested again,” NSW Health said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has praised the Byron Beach Hotel for its strict check-in policy, which she says has made the job of contact tracers a whole lot easier.

“The other good news is how quickly health was able to respond because of the QR system,” the Premier said.

“If we didn’t have that QR system in place, and I want to thank the venue for making that available, if we did not have the QR system in place, health wouldn’t have been able to get on top of that as quickly as we did.”

A number of testing clinics (listed below) have been set up in northern NSW, with health authorities pleading for anyone with symptoms to get tested immediately.

  • Byron Bay QML Pathology Drive-Through, Cavanbah Sports Ground, 249 Ewingsdale Rd, Byron Bay. Open from 8am to 8pm Monday – Sunday. No referral required.
  • Byron Bay Walk-in Pop-Up Clinic; Byron Bay surf club, Bay St, Byron Bay. Open from 9am – 5pm. No appointment required.
  • Lennox Head QML Pathology Drive-through clinic, Lennox Community Centre, Cnr Park Lane and Mackney Lane, 8am – 8pm Monday – Sunday. No GP referral required.
  • Tweed Heads QML Pathology Drive-through clinic, Cnr Wharf and Florence Street, Tweed Heads, 8am – 8pm Monday -Sunday. No GP referral required.
  • Lismore QML Pathology Drive – through clinic, 354 Keen Street, Lismore. Open from 8am – 7pm, Monday – Sunday.