A message from the Mayor

This is a message I did not want to have to share, but we now know Waverley Council currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in NSW, with 105 being recorded as at 8pm on 25 March.

I cannot stress to you enough that we need to be more vigilant than ever in following social distancing. It is now more important than ever. I am appealing to the community to take ownership of their health and respect the restrictions we have in place. I also ask you to continue to respect our Lifeguards and Rangers who are working hard to keep the community safe.

Whilst our Rangers and staff do not have the ability to enforce the measures put in place by the NSW Government to support social distancing, we can fine people for accessing the areas we have closed. This now includes:

  • Waverley Library
  • Margaret Whitlam Recreation Centre
  • All Waverley Council community halls, including the ground floor Mill Hill Seniors Centre
  • Bondi Pavilion
  • All beaches including Bondi, Tamarama and Bronte as well as Mackenzies Bay
  • Bronte Pool
  • Outdoor fitness stations
  • Waverley Council playgrounds
  • Waverley Synthetic Sports field, Waverley Oval and Multipurpose courts at Waverley Park.

I’ve had a number of reports of people continuing to use the facilities and spaces we have closed. Please do not use these spaces as fines may apply under the Local Government Act if you do. In addition to their usual powers, the NSW Police also have additional enforcement powers under the Public Health Act for breaches of Public Health Orders.

We are not making these decisions to close our facilities and spaces lightly. We are doing so in consideration of the advice from the Australian and NSW Governments and will continue to implement measures to help keep our community safe.

I have been in contact with the government to see if enforcement powers for councils can be increased so we can help our police by issuing on the spot fines for certain breaches of the Public Health Orders. As it stands right now, we are restricted in what our Rangers, Health and Building Compliance staff can do. I will keep the community updated on this request as we move forward. However, NSW Police not only have the powers to issue on the spot fines but can also prosecute individuals and corporations for breaching the directions outlined in the Public Health Orders. The maximum penalty for individuals is a fine of up to $11,000 or imprisonment for up to 6 months or both. The maximum penalty for a corporation is a fine of up to $55,000. Further penalties apply if the offence continues.

I’ve also had a lot of people asking me what we are doing about the backpacker hostels in the area. Our staff are carrying out on-site inspections checking they are complying with all of their planning approvals. Staff are assisting with providing facts sheets from NSW Health and awaiting advice from NSW Health on their backpacker strategy.

Finally, I want to reiterate that now is a time to be kind. These are difficult times for everyone. Please stay safe and be good to one another.

Paula Masselos
Mayor of Waverley