Sydney news: Under 18s to be allowed to visit friends at home; Byron Bay could face new lockdown after visitor tests positive

Here’s what you need to know this morning.

‘Friends bubbles’ for under 18s

Young people under 18 will be allowed to visit their friends’ houses from today after a ‘friends bubble’ was signed off on by the state government crisis cabinet.

Children will have to stick to a group of three friends and everyone must live within 5 kilometres of each other or in the same local government area.

All adults in the children’s households must be fully vaccinated and parents dropping them off will not be allowed to interact.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro told Channel Nine the new rules will provide relief for parents and children.

“We’re in school holidays. Kids have done it really really tough, parents have done it tough,” he said.

Government considers new lockdown for Ballina and Byron

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro says the government is considering a lockdown for Ballina, Byron Bay and Tweed Heads on the state’s far north coast.

Authorities are concerned after an authorised worker who was infectious with COVID-19 flew from Sydney to Ballina on Saturday morning and spent a number of days in the region.

Mr Barilaro said the person was allowed to travel and didn’t break the rules.

“The person was an authorised worker, it was part of their employment. They had all the approvals to leave Sydney and they did so and they followed the rules. Unfortunately these things happen.”

He said the person who picked the worker up at the airport had also tested positive.

Vaccine milestones for hotspots

The 12 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Greater Sydney deemed COVID-19 hotspots are reaching vaccination milestones quicker than the rest of New South Wales.

Some 2 million people live in these areas, accounting for a quarter of the state’s population.

According to latest data from the federal government, 85 per cent of those living in a hotspot have had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — 3 per cent more than the state’s average, of 82 per cent. 

As at September 19, more than 90 per cent of residents in the Blacktown and Campbelltown LGAs had received their first dose.

Bayside was the only LGA out of the 12 that trailed the state’s average, but only by a fraction.

Return-to-school plan should include CO2 filters

An occupational hygienist has recommended classrooms be fitted with carbon dioxide filters to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Kate Cole, from expert group OzSAGE, said getting fresh air into classrooms should be the first priority, as poor ventilation contributed to the spread of the virus. 

“We can use really simple measures like carbon dioxide monitors to see how much carbon dioxide is building up in those spaces,” Ms Cole said. 

“We would advise that, if carbon dioxide concentrations are not below 800 parts per million and we have no other way of getting more fresh air into that space, then … we recommend using portable HEPA air purifiers.”

A spokesperson for the education department said their return-to-school plan was based on advice from NSW Health, which stated CO2 monitors or HEPA filters were not required.

“The advice is to maximise natural ventilation and, in preparation of the return to face-to-face learning, the department is reviewing windows to ensure they are openable,” the spokesperson said.

“The review will also ensure that ceiling or wall-mounted fans are operational and other mechanical ventilation systems, such as air conditioning units, are cleaned or filters replaced.”

Arson inquiry appeal

Police are appealing for information about a suspected arson in which a teenage boy died at Macquarie Fields earlier this year.

Emergency services were called to a house a Macquarie fields in the early hours of the morning on June 30, after smoke was seen coming from a two-storey brick home.

The occupants were able to escape the home but 14-year-old Tahma Teara-Jones was found dead in an upstairs bedroom.

Police were told Tahma had been staying with a friend who resided at the home on the night of the fire.

“These are incredibly tragic circumstances that cost a 14-year-old boy his life, and Tahma’s family deserve answers,” said Arson Unit Coordinator, Detective Chief Inspector Richard Puffett, 

Race day crowds return 

]

The NSW government  will allow 5,000 people to attend the Everest horse race event at Randwick Racecourse next month.

The move was signed off yesterday by the state’s crisis cabinet.

The Australian Turf Club had been pushing to have 15,000 people at the event.

The government expects to reach the 70 per cent double-dose vaccination target before the event on October 16.

Cold snap hits

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says temperatures will dip today before easing on Wednesday as a cold front sweeps across New South Wales.

Greater Sydney and the Hunter region could see widespread showers, thunderstorms and winds up to 50 kilometres per hour.

Snow is expected to fall mostly along the state’s tablelands.

“People need to be aware it’s a cold snap, even though we’ve had quite warm conditions, particularly for this time of year,” BOM forecaster David Wilke said.

“We are getting throttled back into temperatures that are a bit more like winter.”

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