New Year’s Eve is going to look a little different this year. The NSW Government has announced its plans for this year’s New Year’s celebrations, including increased capacities for some outdoor gatherings, a fireworks celebration and passes for those entering designated parts of the city.
In keeping with tradition, there will be a midnight fireworks display – but it will last seven minutes, a reduction from the 12-minute displays of past years. There will not be a 9pm fireworks display. The best spots – around Mrs Macquaries Point, Sydney Opera House, Campbells Cove and the Cahill Expressway – will be reserved for frontline workers, with everyone else encouraged to watch it on ABC.
After 5pm on December 31, designated areas of the CBD, Circular Quay and North Sydney will only be accessible to venue patrons, hospitality workers and residents and their guests, who will all need to register for a special pass with Service NSW. (Register from December 7.) Another ring around those areas will be patrolled by police who will issue move-on orders to anyone in large gatherings. North Sydney, Bradfield Park, Blues Point Reserve, Mary Booth Reserve, Quibaree Park, Kurraba Reserve and Cremorne Reserve will also be closed to the public.
In the same announcement the government revealed that a raft of coronavirus restrictions will be wound back from next Monday, November 23, in the lead up to Christmas carol season. Up to 30 singers will be permitted outdoors (with the current limit of five remaining in place for indoor venues), and the audience or congregation will be allowed to join in the singing, as long as anyone 12 years or older is wearing a mask.
Plus, up to 3000 people will be allowed at ticketed outdoor events, including concerts, as long as they abide by the one person per square metre rule if assigned a seat, or one person per four square metres if seated in an allocated seating area (for example, where the grass is marked, or on picnic rugs). And up to 500 people will be allowed at outdoor religious services from Monday, while funeral capacity will increase to 300 from December 1.
“After an exceptionally challenging year, we want everyone to have the opportunity to celebrate and make the most of summer and get outdoors,” Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said in a statement.