Byron mayor Simon Richardson.
Byron mayor Simon Richardson.

Mayor’s high expectations after border change

WITH Queenslanders able to visit the Byron Shire from October 1, the region is likely to see an influx of tourists from the north.

Byron mayor Simon Richardson said those involved in the visitor economy "would welcome getting back to a sense of normality".

"We just expect every person, local and visitor, to act appropriately when it comes to social distancing and all the COVID-19 protections," he said.

The Queensland government has announced the border zone would be expanded into more of NSW from October 1, meaning residents of the Lismore, Byron, Ballina, Richmond Valley, Kyogle and Glen Innes LGAs would be able to travel into Queensland along with Tweed, Tenterfield and other border areas already included in the zone.

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Cr Richardson said the announcement was "a relief" in a range of ways, from the social implications to economic and more heart-wrenching health-related circumstances.

"It was getting increasingly difficult for our residents and for Queensland (based) health professionals to access us," Cr Richardson said.

He said health workers who had been stuck north of the border, or in the bubble - which currently ends at the south of the Tweed Shire - included emergency surgeons who usually work out of Byron Central hospital.

Economically, Cr Richardson said the change would be "fantastic".

"It never should have happened in the first place," he said.

"Arguably nothing's changed. If you think back two months we had no cases and we still don't.

"Rather than smashing into previous decisions, I'm just relieved this decision's been made.

"I think most of us had given up reasonable decision-making could be made.

"There's not a sector of our community that hasn't been negatively affected, whether it's purely social and recreational … down to every single economic sector.

"The distress, the personal correspondence I was having from people who were just feeling the negative effects wasn't easing.

"Even in our organisation, there's dozens of our staff that have been unable to come to work because they're living across the border."