Large gatherings have been banned and people have been told to stay away from the city after an increase in COVID cases.
Sydney, famed for the spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks display over its iconic Opera House and Harbor Bridge, is cracking down on large gatherings on December 31 amid continued efforts to stem a coronavirus outbreak in the city’s northern suburbs.
A resurgence of COVID-19 in mid-December rose to 125 cases after five new infections were recorded on Monday. About a quarter of a million people in parts of the region have been told to stay strictly confined until January 9, and already toned down plans for New Years Eve have been further limited.
“We don’t want to create super-propagator events on New Year’s Day, which ruins it for everyone across the state,” said the Premier of New South Wales (NSW) Gladys Berejiklian at a press conference adding that “the safest way to watch the fireworks is from home.
“On New Years Eve, we don’t want crowds on the foreshore around Sydney,” she says.
Berejiklian wants to discourage people from heading to Sydney city center for the New Year’s Eve show, usually one of the most popular events of the year. The family-friendly fireworks display at 9 p.m. (10 a.m. GMT) has been canceled and the traditional midnight show limited to just seven minutes.
Beyond the city center and the immediate port area, some parks will be closed and those gathered in “large numbers could be displaced by police,” the state government said.
Only residents, workers and those with confirmed reservations at licensed hotels, restaurants and bars will be allowed to enter the city center on New Years Eve, and will need special permits.
Sydney residents were told they could only accommodate 10 people in their homes and 50 outside.
NSW Police have issued 15 advisories in Sydney for violating public health orders since Christmas Eve.
“I would say to those people who half-plan to do something stupid in the next few days, forget it,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt supported the Sydney restrictions.
“What we have done is work,” he said.
Due to rapid border closures, lockdowns, widespread testing, social distancing and a high rate of public compliance with antivirus measures, Australia has recorded just over 28,300 infections and 908 deaths linked to the coronavirus .
Officials say this has given regulators time to assess vaccines without the pressure of growing COVID-19 cases, as has been the case in much of Europe and the United States.
“Our approach is to under-promise and over-deliver,” Hunt said, reiterating that the government is sticking to a March schedule to start vaccinations.