Highway works to affect motorists around Northern NSW


HEADING north or south via the Pacific Highway this week?

A number of changed traffic conditions on and around the highway this week have been confirmed.

Tugun bypass

Changed traffic conditions have been confirmed for this week on the Pacific Motorway at the Tugun Bypass Tunnel, as part of measures to reopen the border between New South Wales and Queensland.

To reduce impact to motorists, all northbound lanes of the tunnel will be closed from 8pm AEDT Tuesday, December 1, to 6am AEDT Wednesday, December 2, weather permitting.

One southbound lane will also be closed while routine maintenance work is carried out.

Northbound traffic will be diverted onto the Gold Coast Highway and Stewart Road during the closure. There is no diversion for southbound traffic.

The tunnel will open to all traffic by 6am AEDT on Wednesday, December 3.

Motorists are advised to allow up to 10 minutes additional travel time, to drive to the conditions and follow the directions of signs and traffic control.

Transport for NSW thanks motorists for their patience while this essential work to reunite border communities is carried out.

 

 

 

There will also be changes in traffic condition this week in the Ballina to Woolgolga section of the M1.

 

 

Woolgolga to Ballina

 

Changed traffic conditions and night work on the Pacific Highway from today to this Sunday, December 6, have been confirmed for the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade, weather permitting.

From today, there will be up to five days of work between Woodburn and Pimlico to carry out kerb maintenance.

Motorists can expect lane closures and traffic control between 6am and 6pm

Also from today, there will be six nights and six days of work between Devils Pulpit and Woodburn to install signposts and carry out finishing work, drainage, line marking and allow access to site.

Motorists can expect traffic control, a reduced speed limit and short stoppages at times between 6am and 6pm.

There will also be temporary closures of U-turn bays to carry out finishing work from Monday between Devils Pulpit and Woodburn.

This work will take up to five days to complete between 6am and 6pm. The U-turn bays will be progressively closed and then opened one at a time.

Further south from Monday, there will be five days of work on the Pacific Highway between Glenugie and Maclean to carry out landscape maintenance in the median.

Motorists can expect lane closures and reduced speed limit of 40 km/h between 6am and 6pm

From Today, there will be six days of work on Marozin and Whites roads at New Italy along with Tuckombil, Redgate and Gallon roads at Woodburn to install traffic safety barriers, pavement work and to allow access to site.

Motorists can expect lanes closures, traffic control and short stoppages at times between 6am and 6pm.

There will be six days of work at Woodburn-Evans Head Road, Woodburn and Broadwater-Evans Head Road, Broadwater from Monday to install signposts.

Motorists can expect lane closures, traffic control and a reduced speed limit between 6am and 6pm.

Motorists were advised to drive to the conditions and follow the direction of signs and traffic control.

For the latest traffic updates download the Live Traffic NSW App, visit livetraffic.com or call 132 701.





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Western Australia will reopen its borders to NSW and Victoria from 8 December


Western Australia will reopen its borders to NSW and Victoria from 8 December, Premier Mark McGowan has confirmed.

Travellers from those states will no longer be required to quarantine for 14 days, having endured almost nine months of restrictions.

It means WA has removed border controls for all states and territories besides South Australia, which continues to grapple with a community outbreak.

Travellers from NSW and Victoria will still be required to undergo health screening and a temperature check at the airport, complete a G2G pass outlining recent travel and take a COVID-19 test if necessary.

“I’d like to acknowledge and thank everyone for their patience and understanding,” Premier Mark McGowan told reporters on Tuesday.

“It’s been a long wait.

“As a country, I’m so relieved we’ve gotten to this point. It’s a credit to all Australians that we are nearly at the point of eliminating the virus in the community.”

Victoria has already reached WA’s criteria of 28 days without community transmission to qualify for eased border rules, while NSW has now gone 24 days without a locally-acquired infection.

Travel from SA remains prohibited unless arrivals meet strict exemption criteria and isolate for 14 days.

People driving across the Nullarbor from the east coast will also be treated as arriving from SA.

Mr McGowan said the border controls with SA would not change until at least 11 December and would be reviewed next week.

The premier said he was hopeful of soon reuniting with his NSW-based parents.

“The last nine months have not been easy,” he said.

“I know the border arrangements have put pressure on families and have been hard to comprehend at times.

“As premier of the state, I never thought I would bring in state border controls. It definitely has been an extraordinary year.”

Mr McGowan also announced places of worship will be exempt from the two square metre rule and able to operate at 60 per cent capacity, effective immediately.

WA recorded three new COVID cases overnight, all returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSWVictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania



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Tragic toll: NSW towns hit hardest by mental health crisis


 

It was thrust into the national spotlight when 33 people tragically lost their lives in last year’s deadly bushfires. But the NSW south coast holds another unenviable title – the suicide capital of NSW.

In a grim reminder of the mental health battle facing our state, the area from Bateman’s Bay to the Victorian border lost 68 people to suicide between 2015 and 2019.

This is compared to the 33 lives lost to the bushfires which ravaged the region from September 2019 through to January 2020.

Analysis of Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) data reveals the south coast area has a suicide rate of 21.5 per 100,000 people – the highest rate in NSW and an increase on the previous year.

Taree, Inverell, Yass and the Clarence Valley are the next worst affected.

 

Australia is battling a mental health crisis. Picture: iStock

 

News Corp Australia this week launches Mental Health 360, bringing together mental health experts and those touched by it first-hand.

Panel experts include former Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry, Sydney University’s Professor Ian Hickie, child psychiatrist Professor Jon Jureidini, Chris Turton who lost his son Dan to suicide, Kids Helpline CEO Tracy Adams, ccountry music star and Rural Adversity Mental Health Program ambassador Melinda Schneider and Federal Health Minster Greg Hunt.

Together with Sky News’ Peter Stefanovic and senior journalists Sue Dunlevy, Ben Pike, Natasha Bita and Kathy McCabe, Mental Health 360 dissect what is arguably the biggest issue impacting Australians.

 

 

 

“I think we are seeing in the coastal regions the cumulative effects of the bushfires, social dislocation and the consequent effects of further trauma through COVID-19,” Professor Hickie said.

“These are the areas where there are already economic impacts, disruption and now there are additional effects.

“It’s very similar to what’s happening on the north coast of NSW. We talk about this idea of stacked distress.”

Yass is among the NSW towns worst affected by suicice. Picture: Supplied

Yass is among the NSW towns worst affected by suicice. Picture: Supplied

 

In the direct aftermath of the 2019-20 bushfires, it has been estimated that more than half of Australian adults felt anxious or worried about the bushfires, according to a recent AIHW study.

To tackle the problem the Suicide Prevention Collaborative in the Illawarra Shoalhaven is providing classes in resilience and self help to students in year 9 as well as training members of the community in the skills they need to help in a mental health crisis.

They have established an after care program to follow up people after a suicide attempt and are ensuring they are connected to community mental health services.

Work is being done to better publicise where people can go for help and to start a community conversation around suicide.

The figures also reveal a yawning gap between suicide rates in the bush and Sydney – where the overwhelming majority of mental health professionals live.

Gosford and Wyong on the state’s Central Coast are the second and third-worst areas in the Greater Sydney region – behind the Sydney CBD.

Those Central Coast locations lost 222 people to suicide from 2015-19 with a suicide rate of between 12.99 and 13.73 per 100,000 residents.

 

 

 

“Gosford on the Central Coast has been known for a considerable period of time as having issues and has been the subject of particular inventions,” Prof Hickie said.

The inner city of Sydney has Sydney’s highest suicide rate, at 14.6 deaths per 100,000 people.

Yet there are 27 other rural and regional locations with a higher suicide rate.

Richmond and Windsor, Mount Druitt, the Inner West and Penrith are the other areas in Sydney most impacted by suicide.

Analysis of the AIHW data reveals all but one of the 20 deadliest postcodes for suicide are all in rural Queensland, Western Australian, the Northern Territory and Tasmania.

A significant problem has also been identified in major city centres, as well as at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.

The sobering statistics come as the country struggles to recover from the economic fallout caused by COVID-19 pandemic.

Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry said suicide “is still a largely hidden death toll”. Picture: Supplied

Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry said suicide “is still a largely hidden death toll”. Picture: Supplied

Professor McGorry said the statistics “are so shocking – it’s like a war zone”.

“There’s more than 15,500 people who have died in that five year period. If the cause of death were something different – like drownings or car accidents – it would be in people’s faces and on the front page,” he said.

“But because of the taboo, and that it is not spoken about freely, it’s muffled conversation, tinged with shame still. Suicide is still a largely hidden death toll.

“Even though there are hot spots in some areas with twice the rate of others, it is the uniformity of suicide that has really struck me. Communities are losing dozens of people every five years.”

Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Neives Murray said “we can’t underestimate the impact that the events of COVID19 is having today and into the future”.

“COVID-19 has amplified the factors we know link with distress and suicide, including unemployment, housing insecurity and financial stress,” she said.

“Fortunately, recent suicide deaths data in NSW and Victoria show that in contrast to some of the predictions, we are not seeing a spike in suicide rates in 2020.

“This means that the protective measures put in place by Governments across Australia are having an impact. These include things like the NSW Government’s significant investment in scaling up mental health and suicide prevention services, the Victorian Government’s investment in post-crisis aftercare, coupled with the Commonwealth Government’s support for JobKeeper and JobSeeker.

“Of course, we can’t be complacent. The next months and years will be challenging and that’s why we will work closely with Government and our members to ensure we continue to strengthen the suicide prevention and mental health systems,” Ms Murray said.

 

January and February are the deadliest months for suicides, according to the AIHW, with the most common contributing factors to suicide including a history of self-harm, disruption of family by separation and divorce, relationship problems, the disappearance and death of a family member and legal problems.

Between 2017 and 2019 the contributing factors which saw significant increases included relationship problems, social exclusion and rejection and a family history of mental illness.

“In rural and regional areas unemployment rates are higher, there are more poor people and opportunities are less for employment and participation,” Prof Hickie said.

“There are also economies which are subject to more rapid changes in fortune whether that be natural events – such as floods and other natural disasters – or through the opening and closing of key industries.

“Young people, Indigenous people, people with very limited education and skills are over represented – all of which create a background higher intrinsic suicide rates in those communities.”

 

 

 

‘WE ALL NEED TO THINK WE MATTER’

As the first anniversary of the suicide of her much-loved husband Glen Hannah loomed in May, country music star Felicity Urquhart could feel herself struggling.

The mum of nine-year-old Tia and seven-year-old Ellie had courageously maintained a fierce determination to find her “happy” each day, to just keep “having a go” since her husband’s death. They were the lessons she seeks to instil in her daughters every day

But the anniversary, coupled with the isolation of the pandemic lockdown and demands of homeschooling, tested her resolve until Ellie surprised her with a unique proposition.

Inspired by the recent Mother’s Day, Ellie told her mum “on the day we lost daddy, we need to make that children’s day.”

She suggested they decorate their home on NSW’s Central Coast with balloons and streamers and the daughters should receive a present. The idea stopped Urquhart in her tracks and she immediately agreed.

 

Country singer Felicity Urquhart with her two kids, Tia and Ellie. Picture: David Swift

Country singer Felicity Urquhart with her two kids, Tia and Ellie. Picture: David Swift

 

“We thought about daddy, reflected on all the nice things about dad … that got me through the day; we celebrated the children and our future and it was healthy for us to do,” Urquhart told Mental Health 360.

Hannah’s tragic death last year was an unfathomable shock to Urquhart and the tightly knit country music community.

The well-respected musician and graphic designer was sought after for his myriad talents as a player, producer and artist and had a large circle of close mates.

In the months after her husband of 10 years took his life, Urquhart sought counsel from experts and friends, trying to understand why.

She was shocked when informed the Central Coast has one of Australia’s highest incidences of suicide.

“Glen was highly successful, he had income flowing in, no great debts, that again is why the shock was so great,” she said.

“If you look at a pie chart of depression, he was the perfect example, but I wasn’t looking at pie charts because my husband was saying ‘I’ve just got some fires to put out, I’m just busy’ and meanwhile I’d be saying ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got the family, I’ve got this, just do what you need to do.’

“I kept trying to get out of the way and he is meanwhile spiralling out of control.”

 

 

Urquhart says she’s a talker. She’s enjoyed a side hustle from her recording and performing career as a radio and television personality because she’s a good talker and listener.

On reflection, she believes shame prevented her high-achieving husband from talking about his mental illness.

“It’s a terrible feeling to suffer, that shame, not being able to tell the person you love the most, the closest friend in your life or a stranger, to not even be able to go into a room with someone you don’t know to open up (about) this fear of failure and shame,” she said.

 

In the months after her husband, Glen, took his life, Urquhart sought counsel from experts and friends, trying to understand why. Picture: David Swift

In the months after her husband, Glen, took his life, Urquhart sought counsel from experts and friends, trying to understand why. Picture: David Swift

 

“Reflecting on the great man that Glen was, he was such a high achiever and I think they are the ones particularly who just push themselves that much harder, their expectations on themselves are so great and at times they are their worst enemy.

“And the irony is that Glen was the kind of guy who would say to me ‘Babe, don’t take it so hard’ or ‘You’re doing a great job.’ He was the guy you would go to, to be reminded to lighten up and things aren’t that bad.

“And yet all along, those things were worrying him. And I didn’t see it.

“How do we unpack shame and get beyond that? I have come to accept that was a terrible pain that Glen suffered.”

Urquhart’s bravery is speaking openly about her husband’s suicide is fuelled by a determination to break the cycle of shame, to urge anyone who feels a “smidge of that” to have a conversation. For those in the arts community, she advocates reaching out to Support Act who have many resources to assist those in crisis, including a 24-hour wellbeing help line.

“Think of it as just having a conversation with someone that cares. People really care and value you and everybody matters,” she said.

“Everyone has their story. And we all need to understand that. We all need to think we matter.”

 

 

 

Originally published as Tragic toll: NSW towns hit hardest by fatal mental health crisis





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Weekend heatwave sent records tumbling in SA and NSW – and it isn’t over yet


Well, it’s officially summer, although I’m sure many of you will contend that it arrived a few days ago.

The numbers back you up, with records tumbling over the weekend, most notably in South Australia and New South Wales which registered their hottest November days since records began.

And it’s not over yet — this week may see more records broken in southern Queensland and northern NSW, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

BOM senior meteorologist Dean Narramore said Andamooka in outback South Australia reached 48C on Saturday, surpassing the 47.9C recorded at Tarcoola on November 30, 1993.

In New South Wales, 46.9C was recorded at the relatively new weather station at Smithville near the SA border, topping the 46.8C at Wanaaring on November 20, 2009.

The Ouyen weather station south of Mildura, with 64 years of data, equalled its own Victorian record of 45.8C.

“We saw 20 sites across NSW, Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory break maximum temperature records with over 30 years of data,” Mr Narramore said.

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Saturday maximums

Here are some of the locations that broke their November station records on Saturday:

Location Temperature
Andamooka, South Australia **48.0C
Marree Airport, South Australia47.5C
Roxby Downs, South Australia47.4C
Smithville, New South Wales **46.9C
Ouyen, Victoria *45.8C
Mildura, Victoria45.7C
Hay, New South Wales45.5C
Sydney Airport, New South Wales43.0C
Rutherglen, Victoria42.6C

** state November record

* equal to state November record

The national record for the hottest November day still holds — 48.7C at Birdsville in 1990.

Some of these stations only have relatively short records like Smithville (which opened in 2017), while those like Andamooka (opened 1965) are far more long-running.

Saturday minimums

Here are a few of the locations that broke their overnight November station records on Saturday:

LocationTemperature
Birdsville Airport, Queensland33.2C
Tibooburra, New South Wales31.3C
Cobar, New South Wales30.1C
Sydney Airport26.0C
Newcastle Nobbys, New South Wales23.7C

According to Mr Narramore, at least 13 sites with at least 30 years of records broke November overnight temperature records.

The warmest overnight temperature ever recorded in Australia in November was 35.0C in 1965 at the Cunnamulla Post Office in Queensland.

Warm overnight temperatures are a key element of a heatwave, as they make it difficult to recover from the heat of the day and make it easier for temperatures to climb the following day.

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Sunday maximums

Some of the locations that broke station records on Sunday:

LocationTemperature
Walgett, New South Wales45.0C
Maitland, New South Wales41.6C
Kempsey, New South Wales40.1C

Kempsey is right on the coast of northern New South Wales with more than 20 years of data, so 40 degrees there is pretty hot, Mr Narramore said.

It is not just single-day records

Sydney broke 40C on back-to-back days — 40.8C on Saturday and 40.5C on Sunday.

“This is only the second time in 162 years of records that Sydney Observation Hill has recorded back-to-back 40-degree temperatures,” Mr Narramore said.

And that’s for any month, not just in November; the previous time was in January 1960.

Mr Narramore said spring could also have been one of the warmest on record, but we will have to wait for the numbers to be crunched before we know for sure.

If you thought it was bad in Sydney, spare a thought for Birdsville which has now had four days over 46C, with 47C forecast today.

Monday maximums

Here are some of the locations that broke November station records on Monday:

LocationTemperature
Ballera, Queensland47.0C
Thargomindah, Queensland46.2C
Roma, Queensland43.7C
Moree, New South Wales44.3C
St George, Queensland45.1C
Dalby, Queensland41.3C
Inverell, New South Wales38.6C

It’s not over yet

Today will be particularly hot across much of northern and inland New South Wales, and Mr Narramore said we’re now likely to see record temperatures for December.

“We’re looking to break more records across southern Queensland and northern New South Wales on Tuesday and Wednesday with the next burst of heat, with temperatures up to 48C forecast for places like Bourke and 47C at Birdsville, Walgett and a few others.”

Brisbane is forecast to remain in the low to mid 30s for the rest of the week, while Ipswich is expected to reach 36C today before peaking at 41C on Wednesday.

Mr Narramore said numerous locations on the Darling Down could approach or exceed December records.

The heat is expected to peak on Wednesday for many locations in southern Queensland, reaching 43C in Dalby, 38C in Toowoomba, 43C in Chinchilla and 46C in Goondiwindi — even Texas on the border with NSW is looking at around 44C.

“That’s pretty hot air for that part of the world,” Mr Narramore said.

These record temperatures also raise the fire danger, so keep up to date with the latest warmings and follow the advice of your local emergency services.

Take it easy in the sun and check in with those more vulnerable around you.



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Cool change moves in after Sydney and northern NSW endure record-smashing heatwave


A cool change has begun moving across NSW after Sydney and regions of northern NSW sweltered through the hottest November night on record and firefighters battled dozens of blazes across the state.

Parts of Sydney – including the city – broke the 40C barrier for a second consecutive day on Sunday after swathes of western NSW, South Australia and northern Victoria baked through even higher temperatures approaching 45C.

While temperatures have cooled in South Australia and Victoria on Sunday, NSW’s eastern and northeastern regions sweated through another hot day.

Maximums in many central Sydney suburbs pushed over 40C again, including Penrith in the city’s west.

Temperatures across the Hunter were also well in excess of 40C, with the mercury hitting 41.9C at Cessnock Airport.

A gusty southerly arrived late on Sunday afternoon and is expected to bring cooler temperatures for Monday before the heat returns to NSW from Tuesday.

“That sweet cool relief is finally making its way through Sydney,” the bureau tweeted.

“Airport just dropped from 35 degrees to 26 in 20 mins while Bellambi saw a 10 degree fall in 1 hour. Southerly now heading into western Syd and will push into Hunter in coming hours.”

Southeast and southern Queensland are also likely to experience elevated temperatures from Monday, with no respite until at least Thursday.

It follows Observatory Hill in central Sydney recording an overnight minimum of 25.3C, breaking the November record of 24.8C set in 1967.

Overnight November minimum records also fell in Camden, Newcastle, western NSW’s Bourke and Cobar and Ulladulla on the state’s south coast.

Saturday’s overnight minimum at Nobbys Head in Newcastle was 24.1C, breaking a 64-year November record of 23.1C.

“The (places) that have the longer records, some of them have been broken, which is reflective of the fact the weather has been rather insanely hot overnight,” Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Helen Kirkup told AAP.

NSW has sweltered through the night amid the state’s first heatwave of the season, with no respite to arrive until Sunday evening.

AAP

NSW Ambulance’s Dominic Morgan said the agency was called out to 3356 emergency incidents on Saturday, its third-busiest day on record.

Total fire bans will remain in place on Monday in NSW’s Northern Slopes and North Western districts.

RFS crews battled more than 60 bush and grass fires across the state on Sunday including a blaze in the western Sydney suburb of Northmead which damaged a home.

It was declared under control about 3pm, while another further west in the Blue Mountains jumped to a “watch and act” alert before being downgraded just before 6pm.

RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers said on Sunday the service was deploying “overwhelming force” to attack every major blaze and encouraged NSW residents to have their fire plans ready.

“As soon as we get a fire call, we’re sending everything we can to it to limit the spread of these fires,” Mr Rogers told reporters.

“Just because we’ve had some rain in the past few months doesn’t mean the risk is eliminated, because it isn’t – it’s a different risk this year.

“I’d rather not be on the back of a four-year drought, which is what we were in last year … (we’re) definitely better positioned but nonetheless it’s a risk.”

Last summer’s bushfires destroyed 2476 homes and claimed 26 lives.





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WA premier flags call on Vic, NSW border | Guardian News


Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan expects to receive updated advice on reopening its borders to Victoria and NSW this week, as both states continue to stack up more days without a locally acquired COVID-19 case.

Victoria has already reached WA’s criteria of 28 days without community transmission to qualify for eased border rules, while NSW has now gone 22 days without a locally-acquired infection.

Mr McGowan has been steadfast about not rushing into a decision, nominating the recently reopened NSW-Victoria border as a reason to take stock.

“NSW is not at 28 days yet and they have an open border with Victoria so we will just be risk-averse,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“I know some people want to rush on this, but the vast majority of people just want to be cautious and careful and we will continue to be cautious and careful.”

He expects to make further announcements during the week once briefed on the latest health advice by WA Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson.

“Clearly with NSW and Victoria, you’ve got to be careful,” he said.

“They have had some of the worst COVID experiences in Australia. We want to make sure we are completely sure that it is the right time to change the border arrangement before we do so.”

Under the current arrangement, travellers from Victoria, NSW and South Australia are required to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in WA.

The bubbling border pressure came as a 42-year-old man was arrested and charged for breaching self-isolation in Perth after arriving from Adelaide almost two weeks ago.

The man was granted a permit to enter WA for work purposes and landed at Perth airport on November 16.

After being granted permission to relocate to Northbridge on Saturday from his initial Cannington base, police found him at a nearby licensed venue after a public tip-off.

He was charged and refused bail ahead of facing Perth Magistrates Court on Sunday.

Meanwhile, WA reported a solitary case of COVID-19 on Sunday among a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

Australian Associated Press





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NSW health minister writes letter to Santa giving him “exemption” from quarantine


The New South Wales Health Minister, Brad Hazzard has great news for Australian kids: “Santa Claus is coming to town and no quarantine is required!”

Hazzard shared the good news on social media, posting a letter addressed to Mr Claus.

“I understand you have significant magical powers which allow you to travel the world safely without transmitting COVID-19,” the letter states.

“As a result, I…hereby declare an exemption for the following essential workers to enter New South Wales,” going on to list Santa, nine reindeer and “any elves required to assist with delivery of presents.”

Like other essential workers, Santa must follow certain health provisions on Christmas Day, adds Hazzard. This includes delivering presents after midnight to minimise contact, physical distancing and mask wearing.

“I am aware you have safely delivered presents to children in Australia during previous pandemics and as a result I am confident you will take the necessary precautions to keep your community safe,” he adds.

Source: Instagram / @newsouthwaleshealth





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Sydney weather: NSW swelters through heatwave


“It reflects the fact that this westerly wind kept us all warm,” Helen Kirkup from the Bureau of Meteorology said. “We had a fair bit of cloud cover as well.”

If the temperature hits 40 degrees on Sunday as predicted, it will be only the second time on record that the city has recorded two consecutive November days with temperatures above 40 degrees.

A southerly buster is forecast to hit the city in the late afternoon, bringing winds of up to 60 kilometres per hour, gusting up to 80 kilometres per hour, and a 16 degree drop in temperature. Monday will be cloudy with the slight chance of a shower.

A total fire ban is in place across Sydney and on the Far North Coast, North Coast, Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney, North Western, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, Central Ranges, New England and Northern Slopes.

The NSW Rural Fire Service is warning of a very high to severe fire danger in those areas.

By 12pm, there were 45 fires burning across the state and seven were yet to be contained, though none had been elevated above advice level.

However, with strong winds and high temperatures, the RFS warned fires could spread quickly and urged people to call triple-0 as soon as possible if they became aware of a fire.

NSW RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers told Today he was most concerned about new ignitions.

“It’s certainly the worst day for fire risk since last fire season,” Commissioner Rogers said.

The RFS has asked harvesters in parts of the North West, Central West and Upper Hunter to immediately cease operations and check the weather conditions before continuing.

As many people resorted to air conditioning, electricity demand ramped up across the grid but remained well short of maximum demand.

Endeavour Energy spokesman Peter Payne said the utility was more concerned about the afternoon change, when branches from heat-weakened eucalypts were prone to falling across power lines and auto-reclosers had been switched to manual to mitigate bushfire risk, raising the likelihood of power outages.

“The southerly that comes through after a hot day causes more issues in our network than the heat itself,” Mr Payne said.

Beachgoers looking to cool off over the weekend were warned to observe social distancing along the coastline, while councils and surf lifesavers monitored crowding at some of Sydney’s most popular beaches. The warnings came as NSW recorded no new locally acquired COVID infections, and four new cases among overseas travellers.

On Saturday, crowds remained manageable and no beaches were closed.

Sydneysiders flocked to the beach to escape the heat. Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

The temperature at Sydney’s Observatory Hill peaked at 40.8C just after 3pm on Saturday, exceeding by four degrees the forecast of 36C for Saturday. In Penrith, it peaked at 41.5. The hottest temperature recorded in the city was at the airport, where the mercury momentarily hit 43 just after 4pm – skirting close to the November record of 43.4C.

A spokesman for Surf Life Saving NSW said patrols were on high alert as crowds flocked to the beaches for the first heatwave weekend of the season.

While it was tempting during a heatwave to take to the waves in the early morning and evening, he urged beachgoers to stick to patrolled beaches and check the Beach Safe app before leaving home to see which beaches are open.

Beach ambassadors have been tasked with monitoring social distancing across Waverley Council beaches and people have been told to stay 1.5 metres or a towel-length apart unless they are from the same household.

“This is going to be an especially challenging summer,” Waverley lifeguard services manager Matt du Plessis said.

The sun rises at Bondi Beach ahead of a hot day on Saturday.

The sun rises at Bondi Beach ahead of a hot day on Saturday.Credit: Getty Images

A 38-year-old man will face court in Wagga Wagga on Sunday charged with deliberately lighting the blaze, which police said came within 10 metres of homes before it was extinguished.

Wallacia locals Brayden and Lucas seek respite from today’s weather on the Nepean River at Fowler Reserve near Blaxland’s Crossing.

Wallacia locals Brayden and Lucas seek respite from today’s weather on the Nepean River at Fowler Reserve near Blaxland’s Crossing. Credit:Dean Sewell

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Sydney and northern NSW endure a second day of record-smashing heatwave


Sydney and chunks of regional NSW have sweltered through the hottest November night on record, with no respite likely until late afternoon.

Parts of Sydney – including the CBD – broke the 40-degree barrier on Saturday while swathes of western NSW, South Australia and northern Victoria baked through even higher temperatures approaching 45C.

Overnight, Observatory Hill in central Sydney recorded a minimum 25.3C, shattering 1967’s November record of 24.8C.

Overnight November minimum records also fell in Camden, Newcastle, western NSW’s Bourke and Cobar and Ulladulla on the state’s south coast.

Saturday’s overnight minimum at Nobbys Head in Newcastle was 24.1C, breaking a 64-year record of 23.1C.

“The (places) that have the longer records, some of them have been broken, which is reflective of the fact the weather has been rather insanely hot overnight,” Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Helen Kirkup told AAP.

While temperatures are set to cool in South Australia and Victoria on Sunday, NSW’s eastern and northeastern regions will sweat through another day.

Central Sydney is likely to again hit 40C as northwesterly winds hold back the sea breeze, while Penrith in the city’s west will reach 42C.

Temperatures across the Hunter are forecast to hit 43C, while much of northeastern NSW will break the 40-degree barrier.

A gusty southerly will not arrive until later on Sunday afternoon, bringing cooler temperatures for Monday before the heat returns to NSW from Tuesday.

“In terms of the change coming through this afternoon, we’ll probably see it between 3pm and 5pm through the Sydney basin, and with that we’ll see temperatures drop fairly significantly,” Ms Kirkup said.

NSW has sweltered through the night amid the state’s first heatwave of the season, with no respite to arrive until Sunday evening.

AAP

Southeast and southern Queensland are also likely to experience elevated temperatures from Monday, with no respite until at least Thursday.

The RFS has issued a total fire ban for most of eastern and northeastern NSW for Sunday, including Greater Sydney, the Illawarra, Hunter and north coast.

RFS Deputy Commissioner Peter McKechnie on Friday urged NSW residents to have fire plans ready and prepare their properties.

“This is the first time since the devastating season last year we’ve seen widespread elevated fire danger,” he said.

Last summer’s bushfires destroyed 2,476 homes and claimed 26 lives.





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