According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, a leaked email from the City of Sydney has revealed plans to scale back the city's iconic New Year's Eve fireworks display. Festivities will follow the same substantially reined-in plans that were rushed into place during Sydney’s brief lockdown at the end of 2020 in response to the Avalon cluster. This would mean that crowds would not be permitted to gather at Circular Quay or the opposite foreshore, that other outdoor viewing gatherings could be scaled back or cancelled outright, and the traditional 9pm fireworks show would be scrapped. This early evening display, known as the “family fireworks”, is laid on for parents with young children who might not be awake to enjoy the world-famous whizz bangs at the stroke of midnight.
According to the Herald, NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet confirmed reports of the reduced festivities, saying that safety was a priority and that it was “pre-emptive” to cancel the family display, despite the event being more than 100 days away. The harbour light parade and the lord mayor’s traditional picnic will also be cancelled, the leaked email says.
This will be the third year in the row that Sydney’s NYE fireworks, which are televised around the world, has been impacted. In 2019, concerns about the bushfire disaster still unfolding around the country almost caused all fireworks displays in NSW to be banned. However, the harbour display was ultimately permitted while other pyrotechnics around the state were halted as a precaution. Last year, the threat of the outbreak on the Northern Beaches, which prevented thousands of Australians from spending Christmas with loved ones interstate, led to a far more austere NYE celebration than Sydney is accustomed to, and priority access to the best viewing spots by the Opera House for frontline health workers had to be cancelled at short notice.
In the leaked email, which was being sent to relevant stakeholders, the City of Sydney said: “This format will allow Sydney New Year’s Eve to remain resilient in the face of continuing uncertainty… We will continue to work with the NSW government to assess the impact of the pandemic on the event. The operational requirements of the event, including crowd densities and capacities, are still being determined, with multiple scenarios being developed.”
A spokesman for the City of Sydney confirmed that the 9pm display would be cancelled, telling the Herald: "The fireworks always generate very large crowds and the two separate displays result in crossover of large numbers of people leaving for one show and arriving for the next. In the current climate, limiting this mixing of crowds will ensure the event can be managed in the most Covid-safe way for all attendees and staff."