“This year is different, this is not schoolies as you know it” – that’s the message issued by senior officers today, ahead of Schoolies 2020.

School leavers across NSW are due to arrive in Byron Bay from this weekend (beginning Friday 20 November), and are expected to stay into December.

While there are no formal events associated with ‘Schoolies 2020’ in the Byron Bay area, police are expecting thousands of teens to descend on the coastal town, marking the end of school life.

Image via Facebook/Byron Schoolies Parties.

Tweed/Byron Police District will conduct an extensive and high-visibility operation for the duration of the ‘schoolies’ period, assisted by the Richmond Police District and other Northern Region commands, the Public Order and Riot Squad, Northern Operational Support Group officers, the Mounted Unit, the Police Dog Unit, Traffic and Highway Patrol, and the Youth Command and PCYC.

Tweed/Byron Police District Commander, Superintendent Dave Roptell, said this year’s celebrations must be conducted in a COVID-safe environment.

“We know this has been an extremely tough year for HSC students, and we appreciate that school leavers want to have a memorable time,” he said.

“We ask anyone coming to the far North Coast to be respectful – we have come this far in managing COVID-19 in our regional communities, let’s not undo all our hard work now.

“Police have a very clear message to those choosing to come to Byron in 2020 – 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.”

Image via Facebook/Byron Schoolies Parties.

Superintendent Roptell reiterated the 20 person maximum rule, to be inside a home at any one time.

“This includes short-stay accommodation,” he said, “the orders also state that up to 30 people can be gathered in a public space at any one time, this includes places such as parks, beaches.

“Police want to remind school leavers that we aren’t here to ruin the fun – our officers are here to protect you and keep you safe; approach police or authorities if you are in danger, if you feel threatened or you are a victim of any type of crime.

“Not only will police be ensuring Public Health Orders are being followed, but officers will be targeting drug and alcohol-related crime, as well as anti-social behaviour.

“Drugs and alcohol impairs your judgement and can lead to risky behaviours or choices which can impact the rest of your life. Know your limits and look out for your mates.”

Image via Facebook/Byron Schoolies Parties.

The NSW Police Force continues to work closely with the Schoolies Safety Response agencies, which include Byron Youth Service and Red Frog volunteers, alongside all health officials and other government agencies, businesses and the community to minimise disruption and maintain a COVID-Safe environment.

For all information related to schoolies during COVID-19, visit https://www.schoolies.com/covid-19-faq

Anyone with information regarding individuals or businesses in contravention of a COVID-19-related ministerial direction is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.