This long weekend is the first real test of the Hunter's COVID-19 response to the coming warmer weather, which has put emergency services on high alert.
Double demerits kicked off this morning and run until Monday, while temperatures are set to surpass 30 degrees in parts of the Hunter across the weekend.
The Rural Fire Service is preparing for the early signs of summer after the Bushfire Danger Period officially kicked off on Thursday. Permits are now required for open fires.
"The only things people can do without a permit are campfires, and cooking fires such as woodfire ovens and barbecues," RFS Lower Hunter Inspector Glenn Byrnes said.
"It is going to be hot and windy, so we ask anyone who's going to have a fire to please be mindful and fully extinguish it when you leave."
The RFS is also doing its own preparations for the warmer weather with hazard reduction burns set down for Monday at Buchanan and Clarence Town. A prescribed burn is also set to go ahead a Awaba South today.
Police will be patrolling campgrounds and parks, along with beaches, licensed venues and other public spaces as part of their high-visibility operation across the Long Weekend.
Port Stephens Hunter commander Superintendent Chad Gillies said police were expecting large numbers of people to flock to the district on the weekend and for police, the main priorities were road safety and COVID-19 compliance.
"This is really our first test of COVID in terms of the summer period," Superintendent Gillies said.
"We need to make sure people are using those public spaces responsibly.
"We'll be working with councils, surf life savers, national parks and other emergency services to make sure there are no issues."
Superintendent Gillies said he wanted to remind people about the limitations for barbecues, parties and other gatherings.
"The maximum amount of visitors is 20 and it's a $1000 fine for each person if that is breached."
Motorists are also being urged to prepare for additional traffic across the weekend. With state borders closed and limited flights, NSW residents are expected to be travelling primarily by road over the holiday period.
"There will be delays, particularly around Raymond Terrace," Traffic and Highway Patrol acting Inspector Michael Buko said.
"We're always mindful of fatalities and the impact it can have on communities and families as well as the police and emergency services who respond.
"We ask the public to be careful when on the toad and drive to the appropriate conditions."
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here
IN THE NEWS:
- Newcastle Knights CEO Phil Gardner on Tinkler, Nathan Brown, Ponga and how Wests bagged the Knights club for $1
- Teenager killed in single-vehicle crash on Mount View Road near Cessnock
- Listen to the Voice of Real Australia podcast: Dungog turns the wheel of fortune with mountain biking revolution
- Santos' Narrabri coal seam gas approval brings Hunter pipeline closer
- Emerging motorcycle star jailed over MDMAEmerging motorcycle star jailed over MDMA syndicate that stretched from Newcastle to Tamworth in regional NSW
- Marist Brother William Wade sentenced to a four month community corrections order for concealment of sexual crimes