Hundreds of people caught at illegal Byron parties
Tweed Byron Police District is urging visitors and locals alike to celebrate responsibly in the Byron Bay area this Christmas and New Year period.
The festive season has seen a continued influx of visitors to the area and an increase in large public gatherings around the Byron town centre, which have required significant clean-up efforts due to the amount of rubbish left behind.
Under the current restrictions, outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than 100 people in a public place including beaches and parks.
Police have conducted an extensive high-visibility operation, dispersing large crowds gathered at Apex Park, on December 24 and Friday 25.
The public are reminded Apex Park is an alcohol-free zone, which effectively prohibits the consumption of alcohol in any public place.
In addition, police attended the National Park area at Tyagarah around midnight on December 26, where an illegally organised party was being held.
In the early hours of this December 27 police again attended Apex Park after a large number of people had gathered.
Police moved on the group and ensured the alcohol they were consuming was tipped out.
Following this, police attended Main Beach and Belongil Beach after approximately 300 people gathered at each location.
The parties were closed down by police and the crowd was moved on.
About 200 people were dispersed and music equipment seized with 73 parking infringements issued.
Police are liaising with National Parks and Wildlife regarding further infringements for organisers and attendees.
Tweed Byron Police District Commander, Superintendent David Roptell, is appealing for those involved to respect the environment and be mindful of the amount of rubbish that is being left behind.
"It's not fair for council workers and locals to have to clean the significant mess that is being left after each of these gatherings," Supt Roptell said.
"I urge those who are intent on meeting in parks and beaches to not only do so safely but be respectful to the environment and those around you by cleaning up after yourself."
Supt Roptell added that police will continue to focus on maintaining a safe and fun atmosphere; however, officers will not tolerate anyone who risks their safety or the safety of others with foolish behaviour.
"This year's Christmas and New Year's celebrations must be conducted in a COVID-safe environment," Supt Roptell said.
"In saying that, we have a very clear message to those choosing to come to Byron over the Christmas and New Year period - this year is very different, there will be no large gatherings, no dance parties in the park.
"Social distancing is the new normal, and we all have to do our bit to stop the spread.
"The NSW Police Force continues to work closely with health officials and other government agencies, businesses and the community to manage the COVID-19 crisis and minimise the spread of the virus."