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Why a man who 'doesn't believe in Covid' is biggest threat to border bubble

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Residents along both sides of Queensland’s border with NSW remain on tenterhooks over the potential spread of Covid after a 50-year-old man accused of being a ‘virus denier’ travelled to Byron Bay with his two children while infectious with the virus.

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The man is being treated at Lismore Hospital. His case forced Byron Bay, Richmond Valley, Lismore and Ballina local government areas into a seven-day lockdown from 6pm Monday.

The areas are within the border bubble, which means people from within the zone who may have been in contact with the man, have been allowed to travel across the border into Queensland for “permitted purposes” such as work and grocery shopping.

Queensland Health confirmed Monday the man had not crossed the border. But Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has flagged a possible shut down of the border depending on how quickly the man’s movements could be traced and how the virus may have spread.

NSW police are urgently trying to track where the infected man has travelled.

The man has been accused of “not believing in coronavirus” and failing to wear a mask or take any precautionary measures after fleeing locked-down Sydney in July.

Byron Mayor Michael Lyon told ABC Gold Coast it was “a nightmare” that the man had not checked in throughout the district using QR codes and was refusing to co-operate with health officials.

“He travelled from Sydney with two kids, staying up here in Byron, been out and about a fair amount in the time — it’s disappointing,” Lyon said.

“It’s been very difficult for police and health authorities to track down where he’s been, it’s ridiculous, you have to wonder what people are thinking when it comes to a situation like this.”

Federal member for Richmond, the electorate that covers the NSW north coast, Justine Elliott, said people were furious at the man’s “appalling behaviour”.

“People are really angry and distressed,” Elliott said. “People are extremely angry about this individual who has travelled up from Sydney.

“We understand he’s travelled to a number of parts of NSW, into Nimbin and into Casino. He’s also been looking at property. There’s a lot of distress and anger.”

She said border residents were “feeling vulnerable” over the breach.

“The lockdown in Sydney happened far too late. I’ve also been calling for a NSW border zone to protect our community and now we’re in this terrible situation,” she said.

“We are very angry about the fact this gentleman has travelled around and seemed to have such disregard for everyone’s safety.

“It’s absolutely appalling. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. People need to stick by the rules, they need to remain vigilant. It really is so upsetting to see an individual behaving in this way.”

Byron Bay Shire deputy mayor Sarah Ndiaye said a significant number of people in the northern NSW region were not taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously.

“I would urge them to take precautionary principles even if they don’t believe in it,” she said.

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