Police across regional NSW are warning residents to plan ahead and to expect a different holiday experience during the summer months of 2020-2021, as they launch the first phase of their summer safety campaign.
Operation Summer Safe is a high-visibility operation which will be in place for the duration of the current school holidays (Monday 28 September – Sunday 11 October 2020), and the following summer months throughout regional NSW.
Operation Summer Safe will focus on policing licensed premises, public spaces and entertainment precincts in an effort to decrease anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related violence, whilst also ensuring adherence to current Public Health Orders.
Northern Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell APM, is urging all New South Wales residents who either live in regional NSW or who are planning to travel to the regions in the upcoming weeks and months to expect a regional visit with a difference.
“We are all aware of the additional risks that the COVID-19 pandemic poses, with tens of thousands of people moving about the state and the additional risk of community transmission ever present.
“We must not forget that the virus doesn’t follow borders restrictions and hotspot declaration and – when families take a holiday closer to home this year – we have to keep our regional citizens in mind.
“Officers from all Northern Region police districts will be conducting regular and high-visibility patrols and checks of major tourist destinations, to ensure social distancing and COVID-19 Safety Plans are being enacted.
“As people continue to chase the warmth and head into Northern NSW, coastal towns will be an additional focus – with local police working closely with councils and NSW Surf Lifesaving to ensure social distancing is observed at our beaches and ocean baths,” Assistant Commissioner Mitchell said.
Southern Region Commander, Acting Assistant Commissioner Dean Smith APM, said police are ready for the influx of visitors to Southern NSW in the coming months.
“We know people are looking forward visiting the Illawarra, South Coast and our regional towns, in particular to support our South Coast towns that were devastated by bushfires earlier this year,” A/Assistant Commissioner Smith said.
“For us to move through this phase of the pandemic, our communities and visitors to the region need to work with us – not against us. We certainly want people to enjoy themselves and everything that our region has to offer, but in a responsible and considerate manner.
“We have and will continue to work closely with our councils, Surf Life Saving and other partner agencies to ensure that our beaches, waterways, national parks, outdoor spaces and licensed venues, can be enjoyed safely in line with current health requirements.
“We will have additional police tasked to patrol our tourist towns, so expect to see a highly-visible police presence,” A/Assistant Commissioner Smith said.
Western Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie APM said those heading inland in the next few months need to remember that just because you’re away from the coastline, doesn’t mean the dangers of waterways aren’t present.
“Inland waterways and dams including farm dams can be very dangerous places and each summer we unfortunately see lives lost through accidents and misadventure.
“Police will be patrolling waterways and access roads throughout the summer targeting all offences in an effort to keep our community safe,” Assistant Commissioner McKechnie said.
Road safety will also be a focus of Operation Summer Safe, with Traffic and Highway Patrol officers to assist police districts with targeting speeding, drink and drug driving, driving while fatigued, mobile phone and other traffic offences.
“Double demerits forms part of the first phase of Operation Summer Safe, with the October long weekend only a few days away,” Assistant Commissioner Mitchell said.
“Always drive to the conditions and never get behind the wheel tired; your beachside or vineyard holiday will still be there, even if you are a few hours late.”
Operation Summer Safe will be continually running from now until the end of summer in February 2021.