Woman who sent Byron into lockdown charged

Byron Bay is in a seven-day lockdown after a woman from Sydney tested positive for COVID-19.
Byron Bay is in a seven-day lockdown after a woman from Sydney tested positive for COVID-19.

A Sydney woman who travelled to Byron Bay to work on the reality TV show I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! then tested positive for COVID-19 is facing criminal charges.

The fully vaccinated 31-year-old had a permit to travel to the area for work-related purposes only.

But police say she breached the conditions of her permit when she went to pubs and shops in Byron Bay and Kingscliff at the weekend, prompting authorities to lock down the Byron Shire and Tweed region.

Police allege she failed to check in to those venues using QR codes.

However, nearby Lismore will be released from stay-at-home orders from midnight, as will Albury, after no new cases were reported in the regions since they were locked down on September 16.

There is good news for several local council areas in the state's west too, with Gilgandra and Brewarrina freed from lockdown at midnight after going 14 days without further positive cases.

Restrictions will also ease in Narromine from Saturday provided the town has no cases or sewage detections before then.

It comes as the government faces criticism from one of their own over work permits that allowed the woman who sparked the Byron lockdown into the region in the first place.

Upper house MP Catherine Cusack called for Health Minister Brad Hazzard to resign over the incident, saying that letting a TV crew film in the regional area was an unnecessary risk.

"(This person was) there only to work, but what they did was breach the health orders," premier Gladys Berejiklian said in response.

"The system worked. It was people doing the wrong thing and I'm really glad police have charged them."

The Rushcutters Bay woman had only recently had her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The amount of time she spent at the venues, plus the Byron area's low vaccination rates, also justify the decision to send Byron Shire and Tweed council areas back into lockdown on Tuesday, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said.

Byron Shire and Tweed's vaccination coverage is well behind the state average.

Dr Chant said the government was working to combat misinformation and to address people's concerns about the vaccine.

No new cases in the area were reported overnight.

But Ms Cusack, who lives on the north coast, earlier told Sydney radio 2GB the low vaccination rates were also due to supply problems.

"We just haven't had any access or any of that attention because we haven't been a COVID hotspot," she said.

"Please recognise that the regions have been left behind."

Elsewhere, another case has been diagnosed on the mid-north coast after Kempsey was sent back into a week's lockdown on Tuesday.

Dr Chant declined to give specifics of the cases that have prompted the lockdown, but suggested the area's low vaccination coverage and presence of vulnerable communities influenced the decision.

Elsewhere, Ms Berejiklian warned that cases in the Illawarra area were on the rise after 62 people in the Illawarra Shoalhaven local health district tested positive in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday.

Hunter New England had 45 new cases, the Central Coast had 35, western NSW had five, and the far west had three.

Of the five people whose deaths were reported on Wednesday, one was from Kiama and another from Wollongong.

Authorities are also warning people in Oberon to be on alert after fragments of the virus were detected in sewage.

Australian Associated Press