The Mayor of Byron Shire has demanded Love Island Australia halt production after a crew member on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! tested positive to Covid-19, sending the entire region into a snap seven-day lockdown.
Michael Lyon accused production company ITV Studios – which produces both Love Island and I’m a Celebrity – of bringing ‘Covid to the region’ in a searing Facebook post on Wednesday, and said he was trying to ‘rescind council approval’.
Lyon’s statement began: ‘I am looking into our options this morning to rescind council approval for the Love Island production, from the same studios that brought I’m a Celebrity – and Covid – to the region.’
Not happy: The Mayor of Byron Shire, Michael Lyon (pictured), has demanded Love Island Australia halt production after a crew member on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! tested positive to Covid-19, sending the entire region into a snap seven-day lockdown
‘As part of that approval issued recently, which allows them to film for longer than 30 days in Federal, I insisted on a 14-day isolation period whereby any cast or crew coming from an area with cases would not come into contact with people from our region,’ he continued.
‘It is clear that this is not possible to implement given what has happened in the last few days. Council approval was only one part of the process, it hasn’t yet had Ministerial approval so I’d say it is unlikely to proceed.’
‘It is so devastating to be in lockdown again and it is clear the “honour” system relied on by the State Government is deeply flawed. It is worth noting that people coming here for work don’t actually have to show a negative COVID test, this was thankfully part of the filming protocol that allowed this early detection. Perhaps our calls for a tightening of restrictions will now finally be heeded,’ concluded the councillor.
Blistering statement: Mr Lyon accused production company ITV Studios – which produces both Love Island and I’m a Celebrity – of bringing ‘Covid to the region’ in a searing Facebook post (pictured) on Wednesday, and said he was trying to ‘rescind council approval’
Demands: ‘Perhaps our calls for a tightening of restrictions will now finally be heeded,’ said the councillor. Pictured: the ‘villa’ where Love Island Australia will be filmed
Culprit: The Covid-infected person responsible for the Byron lockdown has been identified as a fully-vaccinated female I’m a Celebrity crew member. Pictured: the Love Island Australia set
The mayor’s statement comes after a Liberal MP called for Health Minister Brad Hazzard to resign after allowing a reality show to film in Byron Bay where a crew member later tested positive to Covid.
The Byron and Tweed shires were thrown into a snap lockdown on Tuesday afternoon after a case was recorded in the area.
The person was later identified as a fully-vaccinated female crew member on Channel 10’s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
The crew member is now facing criminal charges for breaching conditions of her work permit and for failing to check into venues using QR codes.
The 31-year-old had a permit to travel to the area for work-related purposes only.
But police say she breached the conditions of her permit when she went to pubs and shops in Byron Bay and Kingscliff over the weekend.
Common link: Despite airing on rival networks, both Love Island Australia and the local version of I’m a Celebrity are produced by ITV Studios
Liberal MP Catherine Cusack said she was ‘devastated’ by the news the worker was allowed to fly in from Sydney and called for the resignation of Mr Hazzard, her colleague, for granting the exemption.
‘I am calling on Brad Hazzard to resign because he has ignored the regions and I hold him personally accountable for the new lockdown and destruction of the progress we have made on the Queensland border arrangement,’ Ms Cusack said on Tuesday.
‘Sydney coming out of lockdown is going to be a disaster for the regions unless Sydney is prevented from travelling out of the city.’
Offense: The 31-year-old crew member had a permit to travel to the area for work-related purposes only, but police say she breached the conditions of her permit
Liberal MP Catherine Cusack (right, with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian) called for the resignation of Brad Hazzard after the case was infectious in Byron and Tweed
‘I am calling on Brad Hazzard to resign because he has ignored the regions and I hold him personally accountable for the new lockdown,’ Ms Cusack said
Byron Shire, Kempsey and Tweed Shire areas all went into a snap seven-day lockdown from 5pm on Tuesday.
The woman, who is fully-vaccinated, arrived on the Virgin Flight VA 1141 from Sydney to Ballina on Saturday morning and was infectious for two days while working in Byron, Ballina and Tweed.
Mr Hazzard said the lockdown would initially be for seven days, subject to a further review.
Ms Cusack slammed the NSW government and the health minister for putting the regions at risk.
‘The regions are not ready because we have not had vaccine access. We haven’t had the same rules to fast-track vaccination, and we are sitting ducks,’ she said.
‘Our health system is not going to cope and our Indigenous communities are at massive risk.’
In a statement to Daily Mail Australia, an ITV Studios Australia spokesperson confirmed an I’m a Celebrity crew member had tested positive for Covid-19.
‘ITV Studios Australia has been filming I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in Northern NSW in accordance with Public Health Orders and restrictions, as well as its own comprehensive CovidSAFE plan, which is consistent with Screen NSW’s guidelines for film and television production,’ the spokesperson said.
‘We take our CovidSAFE plan extremely seriously. The health, safety and welfare of the community, as well as our cast and crew, is our number one priority.
Crew: In a statement to Daily Mail Australia, an ITV Studios Australia spokesperson confirmed an I’m a Celebrity crew member had tested positive for Covid-19. Pictured: last year’s cast
‘We can confirm that one of our crew members has tested positive to COVID-19. This discovery was made through the rigorous testing regime implemented by our CovidSAFE plan. The crew member is fully vaccinated and was wearing PPE while at work.’
‘The crew member is fully vaccinated and was wearing PPE while at work. All close contacts of the crew member from within the ITV production have been identified.
‘They are being tested and will isolate in accordance with NSW Health’s requirements. ITV is providing crew members with all the support and assistance possible.
‘We are working with NSW Health to ensure all necessary steps are taken in relation to contact tracing, testing and further communication to anyone that needs to isolate.’
The crew member was PCR tested and returned a negative result prior to their departure from Sydney for northern NSW, and took a second test on the day of arrival, as is required, and that test was positive.
They have since returned to Sydney and entered isolation after their positive test.
The crew member was not on set or in studio, and the production of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! was not affected by the positive test.
Lockdown: Byron Shire, Kempsey and Tweed Shire areas all went into a snap seven-day lockdown from 5pm on Tuesday, after a Covid-infected Sydney resident flew in on Saturday and tested positive on Monday