If you made New Year’s Eve plans in Sydney a month ago, you probably should’ve scrapped them by now. And if you made NYE plans even as recently as a week ago, there’s a chance you need to scrap those, too.
On Wednesday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced even more restrictions on top of Sydney’s already-muted NYE celebrations.
It’ll be almost impossible to watch the fireworks in public, and people are being urged to have very small gatherings at home instead.
On top of that, the fireworks themselves have been downsized this year.
The midnight fireworks will be cut to around seven minutes. There’ll be no 9 PM family fireworks, and no fireworks west of the Harbour Bridge.
That’s price we have to pay to keep this current wave of the pandemic under control. Here’s what you need to know.
Are the midnight fireworks still happening?
How many mates can I have over?
Households in greater Sydney are allowed to have up to five guests over on NYE. The previous limit was 10 people.
Unlike over Christmas, this guest limit also includes children.
The restrictions also apply to the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong.
I’m in Sydney right now, and I’ll admit it is weird that Gladys today reduced the number of New Year’s Eve house guests from 10 to 5 but will still allow 30,000 at the SCG for cricket. And masks still not compulsory.
— Derryn Hinch (@HumanHeadline) December 30, 2020
How many people can gather in public?
In theory, up to 30 people will be allowed to gather in public on NYE, but good luck finding a location (more on that in the next section).
“It is safer to be outdoors whether it’s a picnic, a barbecue, but please maintain your social distancing and please make sure that you at all times appreciate that there could be cases of the virus that we haven’t captured,” Berejiklian said.
But wait, will any public spaces actually be open?
If you want to watch the fireworks in public this year, you’re shit out of luck.
From 5 PM on NYE, Circular Quay, The Rocks and the Royal Botanic Garden will be completely off limits to everyone except those with a special pass from Service NSW.
The same will apply to a few major vantage points on the Lower North Shore: Blues Point, Bradfield Park, Cremorne Reserve, Kurraba Reserve and Lavender Bay.
These areas will be called the Green Zone, and it means you won’t be able to watch the fireworks from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair or set up camp at Blues Point.
On top of that, any public gatherings, regardless of size, will be moved on by police across the CBD and in the following areas: Balmain East, Barrangaroo, Cremorne Point, Darling Harbour, McMahon’s Point, Neutral Bay, North Sydney, Potts Point, Pyrmont, Rushcutters Bay, Waverton and pretty much everywhere in between. These areas will form the Yellow Zone.
The Green Zone and Yellow Zone have been outlined on the map above.
Outside of even these spots, most of the popular NYE parks around the harbour will be closed by the Hunters Hill, Inner West, North Sydney and Woollahra councils.
Basically don’t plan on meeting up with a big group of mates and wandering around all the usual NYE spots.
In fact, just stay home. That’s what health authorities want us to do.
Thrilled to hear that all of my crushes in Sydney aren’t allowed to kiss someone on NYE!! Just wait till I’m back in Jan and you can kiss me ????
— Elouise Eftos (@hotsmartfunny) December 30, 2020
Ok, so how do I get one of these passes?
You need to have already made a booking at a restaurant, bar or other ticketed event beforehand.
So if you’re only just finding out about these passes now, you’ve probably missed the boat.
In theory, you can still apply for a pass here, but keep in mind most venues are already overbooked because lockdown restrictions halved venue capacity earlier this month.
What If I work in an office in the CBD?
Previously, office-based gatherings were eligible for a pass.
However, The Sydney Herald now reports that this is no longer the case.
There are still areas of the harbour foreshore reserved for frontline workers, right?
Sadly, not anymore.
While there were plans to allocate a few prime vantage points to the people who worked tirelessly to keep us all healthy this year, those plans were unfortunately cancelled on Monday due to glaring safety concerns.
“We’ll find another opportunity during the year to recognise what you have done,” Berejiklian said.
What if I live in the CBD (or the adjacent suburbs)?
You’re fine to go about your evening as normal, and you won’t need a pass.
Just don’t organise any public gatherings.
This is what being in Sydney will feel like on NYE pic.twitter.com/yLhPiErx5y
— Shingi Thee Stallion ???? (@badgalshishi_) December 30, 2020
What if I’m stuck in the Northern Beaches?
People in the northern part of the Northern Beaches – think Avalon, Mona Vale and Palm Beach – still have to abide by the stay-at-home order.
That means no guests and no public gatherings.
However, people on the southern part of the Northern Beaches – everywhere south of the Narrabeen bridge, such as Collaroy, Dee Why and Manly – will still be able to have up to five guests over, as long as they’re also from the Northern Beaches.
Who can I kiss at midnight?
Nobody! Not even me!