NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has guaranteed fireworks will ring in the new year for Sydneysiders next Thursday, despite calls from health experts for the event to be cancelled.
- Ms Berejiklian says people should watch the fireworks at home
- The Australian Medical Association’s NSW branch says people should keep their gatherings small
- Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore has previously said the event should be cancelled if authorities can’t guarantee it would be safe
Residents have been urged to watch from home but the Premier confirmed there was no chance the display would be called off.
“The actual display itself, the seven minutes of fireworks at midnight, will be happening no matter what,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“But I’ll certainly be watching it from home and we encourage everybody else to do that as well.”
She said the Government had provided some access to vantage points for frontline workers to watch the fireworks and was still considering further restrictions to gatherings at homes or venues.
Doctors have urged the NSW Government to cancel the event to discourage crowds and avoid confusion.
The president of the Australian Medical Association’s NSW branch Danielle McMullen said going ahead with the fireworks was a risk and “sending the wrong message”.
“As heartbreaking as it is, we really need to keep our gatherings small so that if there are cases out and around in Sydney, as we think there are, that the contact tracers have a hope of keeping on top of them and keeping us all safe into the new year,” Dr McMullen said.
“It’ll be encouraging people to gather on foreshores around the harbour or in private homes in larger numbers than we think is safe to do in the middle of an outbreak.”
Epidemiologist and pandemic adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO) Mary-Louise McLaws said the NSW Government had taken an “emotive approach” to restrictions because of the holiday period.
“I understand mental health. I understand that we are all really excited about the Christmas break … it’s a time to come together,” Professor McLaws said.
“But this is also an accelerant time, New Year’s Eve as well … we do not want an acceleration [of the virus] further into Greater Sydney.
“The way it is at the moment, we don’t know how many more cases are incubating out there, so we don’t want to add fuel to this potential fire.”
Professor McLaws said three days was “not at all” enough for authorities to assess the situation and provide further advice on how restrictions should move forward.
“If something happens [on Christmas Day] and Boxing Day, the minimum incubation period is around five or six days for people to start feeling symptoms, but it can be as long as 14 days,” she said.
Waverley Council in Sydney’s east has cancelled its official New Year’s Eve event at Dudley Page Reserve in Dover Heights after discussions with police.
Earlier this week, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the fireworks should be cancelled if police and health authorities could not be “certain that the event can be held safely”.
This year, the State Government has taken “temporary custodianship” of the fireworks display, after the City of Sydney Council declined to host the event due to the pandemic.