City of Newcastle will suspend its commuter bus Park and Ride service from Monday in response to a decline in patronage of more than 85 per cent since COVID-19 began affecting the Hunter.
Patronage of the commuter service has dropped significantly over the past month, with buses running close to empty to and from the city following the shutdown of non-essential services and many businesses implementing work-from-home arrangements.
All registered Park and Ride users will receive notifications of the change via message to their registered mobile phone number and email address.
Blackbutt Reserve has also been closed to the public in line with the Public Health Order of 25 March limiting all non-essential services. This follows last week’s suspension of wildlife shows and other entertainment and services that required close contact between members of the public and Blackbutt staff.
The closure of Blackbutt has become more urgent with staff continuing to locate large public gatherings in the sheltered areas despite pleas from the Federal and State Governments for the community to practise social distancing.
While public access is now restricted, City staff will continue to tend to Blackbutt Reserve and care for the animals on site as per usual.
City of Newcastle has also closed community halls until further notice, following Wednesday’s Federal Government directive to close all community facilities.
While non-essential services have ceased at these facilities, services such as mental health, childcare and crisis support continue under strict social-distancing practises and current health advice.
City of Newcastle staff are reviewing the capacity of these sites to become available for local emergency facilities and other essential services if required.
Meanwhile, the City is installing signage across open space areas including beaches, baths and parks to encourage visitors to practise safe social distancing and refrain from gathering in groups in line with the Public Health Order.
For further information on the City’s response to COVID-19, please see newcastle.nsw.gov.au/COVID-19