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Local News

Program Artwork for the now-cancelled 2021 Byron Writers Festival

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Byron Writers Festival cancelled

SYDNEY’S COVID-19 OUTBREAK CLAIMS FIRST REGIONAL NSW FESTIVAL

The 2021 Byron Writers Festival has been cancelled in light of Sydney’s unpredictable COVID-19 outbreak.
Devastated organisers made the announcement this morning after an emergency meeting of the Byron Writers Festival board.
“It is with a heavy heart we have made the decision to cancel Byron Writers Festival 2021, which was scheduled to run from 6-8 August. We have come to this extremely difficult decision in light of the developing Covid-19 situation in NSW as well as border and travel restrictions,” an official statement from Edwina Johnson Festival Director and the team at Byron Writers Festival read.
Escalating case numbers, the virulence of the Delta strain and Byron Bay’s popularity as a destination for metro visitors were all factors considered in the decision.
“We have been following Covid developments in Greater Sydney and nationally very closely over the last few days. As positive cases continue to emerge and borders are closed to NSW, it has become clear that the current restrictions will push too close to the festival to make it feasible to proceed in early August. Especially given a large portion of participating writers are located in either Greater Sydney or interstate and are subject to travel restrictions. In addition, of course, is growing community hesitancy to travel in such volatile circumstances,” the statement added.
“Our primary and abiding concern is, as ever, the health of everyone involved in the Festival – presenters, attendees, volunteers, staff and of course the safety of the wider Northern Rivers community .. we believe cancellation is the only responsible course of action.”
In what was meant to be its 25th anniversary year of the festival, more than 150 authors, commentators, entertainers and powerful new voices were scheduled to appear at the 2021 Byron Writers Festival across 115 panels during the three day event.
According to the 2021 program, at the core of the festival is,
‘ .. the belief in the power of story as a means to connect, heal and make change,’ it read.
The 2021 Byron Writers may reschedule programming for later in the year, a decision is still pending.
Anyone with a ticket to Byron Writers Festival 2021 will automatically receive a refund within the next 14 days. Tickets to satellite events or festival workshops are asked for patience as refund arrangements are worked through with event partners and venues.
“We offer our sincere thanks for your support and please, stay safe.” Edwina Johnson Festival Director said.
It is the second time in two years Byron Writers Festival has been forced to cancel due to risks from Covid-19.
Photo: writers cancelled program
Caption: Program Artwork for the now-cancelled 2021 Byron Writers Festival
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The cancellation of Writers Festival comes as Regional NSW recorded its first case of COVID-19 in Goulburn in the Southern Tablelands, after a construction worker travelled from Sydney to work in a regional hospital.
The male worker was deemed an ‘essential’ worker permitting him to travel to the region.
NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said Sydney workers can’t be complacent when working in regional areas and reminded all workers of the requirement to return to their accommodation straight after work,
“You can’t go to pubs, clubs, hospitality, anything else, you can only go there and do your essential work and get your essential food and groceries, the restrictions in greater Sydney apply to you.” Dr Chant said.

Local News

Veteran nurse debunks claims Tweed Hospital is ‘Falling over in a screaming heap.’

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Veteran nurse debunks claims Tweed Hospital is ‘Falling over in a screaming heap.’

Veteran nurse debunks claims Tweed Hospital is ‘Falling over in a screaming heap.’

Speaking to The Northern Rivers Times on the condition of anonymity, an experienced nurse at Tweed Hospital has moved to counter some media claims the hospital is falling apart.

The nurse said the belief “Tweed Hospital has no Covid diagnosis equipment” is simply not true with Rapid Antigen Tests continuing this week for patients.  Hospital staff were also being tested at Tweed hospital.

“They still do ‘rapids’, definitely, and the results are back in half an hour,” the nurse said.

The nurse was concerned media hype did not tell the everyday story of life on hospital wards, which the nurse said were generally well-staffed and if quiet, saw some nurses redeployed to other wards.  The nurse said it was not unusual to have staff shortages anyway at this time of year or staff doing paid overtime.

“Hospital administration is still allowing people to go on annual leave, if it was in dire straits, why aren’t all the hierarchy back, they would be back if it was so bad.”

“A & E (Accident and Emergency) is certainly stretched with Covid admissions who should be staying home .. but it certainly isn’t falling apart.”

The nurse said managers and nurse unions have had ‘plenty of time’ to prepare for covid emergencies like now, including ensuring fit-testing of N95 or P2 respirators, mandatory for all frontline staff and an area lagging at Tweed Hospital.

“They could’ve planned better for this,” the nurse observed, “ .. it should’ve been done earlier.”

The experienced nurse was quick to add that negative commentary was not helpful for staff morale at a time like this.

“What we need to do is boost people up, encourage them to keep going, that we will get through this.  It’s all too easy to criticise,” the veteran nurse said.

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Business News NSW Northern Rivers

RENT RELIEF CONTINUES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY COVID-19

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RENT RELIEF CONTINUES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY COVID-19

RENT RELIEF CONTINUES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY COVID-19

Small businesses who are still doing it tough across the State will continue to benefit from rent relief until 13 January 2022, ensuring ongoing support for small businesses over the Christmas and New Year’s Period.
Treasurer Matt Kean said as the economic recovery continues, many small businesses are still not back at their pre-COVID turnover and rent is still one of their biggest fixed costs.

“Small business is the engine room of our economy and as we recover from the pandemic we need to make sure we leave no one behind and support impacted businesses as they continue to recover,” Mr Kean said.
“Continuing rent relief measures for impacted small businesses will provide a necessary buffer to allow businesses time to get back on their feet and begin to thrive again.”

The Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2021 rent relief provisions will continue for eligible businesses with a turnover of less than $5 million, a more targeted level of support from the previous turnover threshold of $50 million.
Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope said landlords will still be required to negotiate rent relief with eligible commercial and retail tenants that are experiencing a turnover decline of 30 per cent or more.

“Lockdown may be over but there are still small businesses, particularly in our CBDs, that are facing a slower recovery and are continuing to do it tough,” Mr Tudehope said.

“As the State continues to transition out of lockdown, 97 per cent of NSW businesses will retain access to COVID-19 rent relief provisions if they continue to experience a significant decline in turnover.”

Small commercial and retail tenants that would have continued to meet the eligibility criteria for JobSaver or the Micro-business Grant, after ending on 30 November, will remain eligible for rent relief negotiations with their landlords.
Under the Regulation, landlords are required to negotiate rent relief having regard to National Cabinet’s Code of Conduct. As a starting point, rent relief should be proportionate with eligible tenant’s decline in turnover, with at least 50 per cent in the form a waiver, and the balance a deferral.
Landlords can access the Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund, which currently provides small commercial or retail landlords with a monthly grant up to the value of any rental relief provided, to a maximum of $3,000 per month per property.
Alternatively, land tax relief is available for eligible commercial landowners who have reduced their tenants’ rent due to COVID-19, between 1 July 2021 and 31 December 2021. The reduction in land tax payable is the lesser of:

  • the amount of rent reduction provided to an eligible tenant for any period between 1 July 2021 and 31 December 2021, or
  • 100 per cent of the land tax attributable to the parcel of land leased to that tenant.

For more information on rent relief visit: Commercial leases https://www.smallbusiness.nsw.gov.au/get-help/covid-19/commercial-leases-and-covid-19-faqs
For more information on COVID-19 assistance for commercial and residential landlords visit: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/campaign/covid-19-help-businesses/covid-19-assistance-commercial-and-residential-landlords

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Health News

Pharmacists ready with Moderna boosters but services must be sustainable

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The Northern Rivers own newspaper

Pharmacists ready with Moderna boosters but services must be sustainable

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes the announcement that Moderna’s SPIKEVAX vaccine has been provisionally approved as a booster dose for Australians aged 18 years and above.

Yesterday, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) confirmed that a second vaccine will be available for the National Booster Program.

PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, acknowledged further enablement of the pharmacist workforce.

“With the National Booster Program well underway, this move is timely – one that provides Australians with greater vaccine choice in the lead up to early 2022 when the majority of the population becomes eligible for their booster dose.

“This announcement, coupled with Monday’s provisional approval of Pfizer for Australians aged 5-11 years, marks a week of significant progress in the pandemic response and PSA commends the Government’s approach to making these decisions.

“This development now means that the potential number of pharmacists offering booster vaccinations across Australia has more than doubled, accounting for those already participating in the Moderna program.

“However, it is imperative that pharmacists are paid fairly, and at least equally to other providers, otherwise the provision of this critical service is not sustainable. With 2.3 million children becoming eligible for vaccination, extra consultation time will be required to undertake appropriate assessment and consenting, placing further strain on service sustainability.

“Pharmacists have already administered over 2.5 million vaccinations to Australians, and as mass vaccination hubs continue to downscale their operations over the coming months, pharmacists will become an even more critical part of the vaccination strategy,” he said.

PSA is dedicated to supporting Australian pharmacist immunisers through the National Booster Program and will continue to work closely with the TGA and ATAGI to ensure pharmacists are equipped with the most up-to-date advice regarding vaccine safety and effectiveness.

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