RESIDENTS should expect an influx of day trippers to northern beaches with the easing of restrictions on the double vaccinated.
While Monday October 11 marked the change to selected COVID-19 restrictions for the double vaccinated, Wollongong City Council is asking residents to remain cautious.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery has welcomed the reduction in infection rates and high numbers of people who have had their double vaccinations in Greater Sydney and regional NSW, but said Wollongong is still “in the thick of a challenging time”.
“Up until the end of last week, we’d had more than 600 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Wollongong over the previous two weeks,” he said.
“This is in contrast to the first 12 weeks of this outbreak where we had close to 600 cases between June 18 and mid-September.
“We are faced with a real challenge as a community and this local community transmission is of great concern to Council. It’s why we’re taking a cautious approach to changes to our services and it’s why we’re asking our community to be mindful if they’re out and about this weekend.’’
Speaking with local reporters last week, Wollongong Police Chief Inspector Darren Brown said we all need to play our part in staying safe in and around our waterways.
“We want people to get out an about and have fun after having been in lockdown, but with that comes certain responsibilities,” Chief Inspector Brown said.
Chief Inspector Brown is urging all beachgoers, fishers and boaties to be aware of the conditions before entering the water, and to always follow the advice of lifesavers, like swimming between the red and yellow flags.
Police will patrol beaches and coastal areas to continue enforcing the Public Health Order. Residents from Greater Sydney – including Wollongong and Shellharbour – are not permitted to travel to regional NSW until November 1. The same goes for those in regional NSW: do not travel to Greater Sydney just yet.
Beaches are open as normal and Council has reopened the car parks at Flagstaff Hill, Mt Keira Summit Park, Sublime Point and Bald Hill after discussions with NSW Police, and turned on public barbecues.
At public pools people need to book in for a swim, and in line with the updated Public Health Order, all those in the pool grounds over the age of 16 are required to be fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine. Customers will need to show proof of vaccination on arrival.
From Monday October 18, there will be further changes to services in libraries, community centres, leisure centre and tourist parks. See: Libraries, community centres and tourist parks reopen next week.
Wollongong City Council General Manager Greg Doyle said as Council monitored closely the community transmission, testing and vaccination rates, it is also working on an opening-up plan.
“I know there are a lot of people in our community who are keen to return to the ‘new normal’ and we’re working on the plans that will support that,’’ he said.
“For example, while community sport can not be undertaken through the current Public Health Order we are preparing the grounds and working with sporting clubs on their COVID-safe plans to support this re-start as soon as it’s permitted.
“Similarly, we’re also looking closely at the services our popular libraries provide so that we can meet the needs of our whole community as we move forward. It’s important to get the balance right as while there are people keen to get back in and pick their next read off the shelves, there are others in our community who aren’t feeling comfortable with this.’’
Cr Bradbery said with the change to restrictions to double vaccinated people, residents should anticipate more people enjoying the city’s public spaces this weekend.
“We’re well aware that it’s likely we’ll see some daytrippers in our city this weekend as well as others meeting up with family and friends,’’ Cr Bradbery said.
“We’re prepared and ready to see more people in our parks, greenspaces and foreshore areas. Our waste services crews have scheduled extra collections and pick-ups, our parks crews have been working around the wet weather to mow popular areas and our lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers are ready for the weekend ahead.”
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