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The city skyline view from Darling Harbour with fireworks.
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Here's what New Year's Eve in the Sydney CBD and Harbour will look like this year

Dining permits, reserved spots for frontline workers, and a whole lot more

Written by
Divya Venkataraman

The dazzle of a colossal fireworks display lighting up the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House is an iconic spectacle that's beamed around the globe every New Year's Eve. But, for a while there, it looked like our world-famous festivities might not go ahead at all in 2020. Thankfully, a whole host of restrictions (both eased and implemented) will ensure that the city will still see an end-of-year celebration – but, of course, it's all set to look and feel very different this time around.


Dancing is back on! Hooray – we're not the town from Footloose anymore. Up to 50 people are allowed on a dance floor at any one time from December 7. Further, venues' capacity limits have increased significantly to two square metres per person up from four. You'll also be able to drink while standing, as long as you're in an outdoor area of a venue. 

Fireworks displays

Yes, they're still on – but they'll be limited to a smaller (still magical) seven-minute display at midnight. The city has axed the child-friendly 9pm version, to discourage crowds gathering on the harbourfront. From November 23, groups of up to 3,000 will be able to sit outside with four square metres of social distancing space between them – and that goes for outdoor events run around the state. Looks like Christmas carols are back on. 


You'll only be allowed into the city on December 31 if you have a permit. So how do you get a permit? Well, you can download one at the Service NSW website, but they'll be reserved mostly for people with a booking at restaurants, bars or other venues – apply online now. A small number of permits will also be reserved for frontline public service workers like nurses, police, cleaners and transport workers, who will get exclusive access to the best fireworks viewing vantage points – including the Opera House, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, Campbell’s Cove and the Cahill Expressway. One thing to keep in mind – you'll need to apply for a permit even if you live in the CBD area, or you're visiting someone who does. 

Limits on house visitors

If you're celebrating at home this year, you're now allowed 50 visitors to your home. If you don't have an outdoor space the NSW government "strongly recommends" that you cap your visitors at 30. 

We'll keep you updated as the news comes in. In the meantime, here's how to make the most out of your week in Sydney

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