The gates have effectively been closed to one of the state's holiday hotspots ahead of what would normally be one of the busiest times of the year.
Less than a week out from the Easter long weekend, the message from civic, business and law enforcement leaders of Port Stephens to potential visitors could not be any clearer - stay away.
Their pleas echo Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who on Friday reiterated his warning for Australians not to travel during Easter.
"People should not be going away for Easter holidays," Mr Morrison said.
"People should not be getting in their cars and going to other places."
Non-essential travel within the state is barred after legislation changes made last week. Anyone caught away from their home "without a reasonable excuse" can face an $11,000 fine.
Although there are still concerns within parts of the Port Stephens community that people from outside the region, particularly Sydney, might try and escape to the area for a few days relief from the city and home isolation.
The concerns arise from the fact bookings can still be made at motels and a belief that outsiders might have family in the area they plan on staying with or holiday houses they can use.
Port Stephens-Hunter Police commander Superintendent Chad Gillies issued a warning this week to anyone thinking of travelling over the Easter holidays.
"Those that are still intending on going away for the long weekend - think again," he said in a video posted on the police district's Facebook page.
"This is against government and health advice and against the legislation around self-isolation, it is not considered essential travel.
"So please, I ask you to adhere to those protocols and stay at home."
Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer said there were legitimate reasons for travelling to the area but it was likely some people would visit over Easter and the school holidays for the wrong reasons.
"People still need to travel and there are reasons for travel," he said.
"That might be for work or looking after vulnerable people ... that's why accommodation does still need to be open.
"But I have no doubt that there will be people who will flout the restrictions and want to do their own thing, but I certainly wouldn't encourage that because there are hefty fines and if you are looking to do the wrong thing, I would hope the law does catch up with you."
Cr Palmer said council was actively discouraging all non-essential travel to the area over the Easter break, including any Novocastrians considering a day-trip for recreational reasons.
"The message from me is: don't holiday here this time," he said.
"We want to have you back but we don't want to see people holidaying here in Port Stephens.
"We have an older population up here that is worried on many fronts.
"If you come into Port Stephens, there are closures left, right and centre. Our beaches are closed, our boat ramps are closed, our national parks are mostly closed."
Port Stephens doctors called for zero-tolerance social isolation measures last month to protect the area's high number of elderly residents from catching coronavirus.
Parts of the region are home to the largest number of people aged over 65 in the state and Cr Palmer said some of those residents were very concerned about people visiting in coming weeks.
"From the contact that I've had with those around the area, they are worried," he said. "They are certainly in the demographic of those who are affected by the virus.
"They are probably at more risk than the younger community ... and are generally concerned about contracting the virus.
"Some of the emails that have come through are, 'I've got a holiday house next to me and I'm worried it will be filled over Easter'.
He encouraged residents with concerns or questions to contact the council.
"We may already be doing something, we may be already implementing new procedures," he said.
"One of the things we've brought in today on our main roads is variable messaging signs that say, 'are you taking unnecessary travel?'.
"We're doing all we can to deter people from coming to our area and that's what I think some of the older population up here are wanting to know, what is going on, and it's getting that message to them that there are a lot of things happening."
The council, like others, has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, in revenue after a tidal wave of cancellations hit its four caravan parks over the past few weeks.
Cr Palmer said the region had been dealt a huge economic hit from the coronaivrus outbreak. Tourism is worth $621 million to the local economy alone.
Non-essential service shutdowns and the restrictions on travel have crippled usually thriving accommodation and tourism businesses in not only Port Stephens, but Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.
"We've had thousands of cancellations," said Will Creedon, managing director of Alloggio, a holiday property management company which has a significant presence in Port Stephens.
"It's peanuts [the amount of bookings]. It wouldn't even pay the electricity.
"For me it's about trying to hold onto our team, and it's a very, very diminished team, so that we can come out on the other side of it."
Mr Creedon said he was aware there was a perception among the Port Stephens community that tourists were still visiting the area.
He said that was not the case across his properties, which are a style of accommodation usually booked for longer than a one or two-night stay.
"There's no non-essential travel through our properties that I see," he said.
"It's all essential travel, particularly around health workers, army and police. There are no visitors here, I can assure you.
"The fines have absolutely, I believe, stopped any sort of recreational travel. And people are afraid. We have actually even, in our digital assets, said don't travel."
The tourism veteran said accommodation providers were "only at the beginning" of the downturn.
"In 16 weeks time, we'll have hopefully reached our peak and start to understand what plateau looks like, as well as the social fabric of plateau, and then try and plan a way forward."
Newcastle Tourism Industry Group chair Kent Warren said the visitor economy made up 35 per cent of Newcastle's gross domestic product and the accommodation sector was "certainly feeling the pinch".
"The JobKeeper legislation that is about to come in is vital," he said.
"We will be able to retain jobs. It's as simple as that."
He said the coming months would test every tourism business but the period offered a chance for operators to reassess their business in a way they may not usually have time to do.
"We're working with our stakeholders Newcastle council and Destination Sydney Surrounds North to enact a range of different workshops to ensure businesses can get themselves ready and do the things that have been mothballed in the past that can really make a difference," he said.