After several consecutive days of shrinking case numbers, Sydney has been struck by a significant spike. 18 new locally acquired infections, including eight cases with no clear links to the Avalon cluster, were reported on December 30, and due to this surge, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced even tighter restrictions for New Year’s Eve celebrations across Greater Sydney, including Wollongong, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains.
From midnight on December 30, the following restrictions will be in place until further notice:
- Gatherings within private residences are restricted to no more than five guests – half of the previously announced limit of ten guests.
- Outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 30 people, down from the previously announced limit of 50 people.
Restaurants and bars will still be permitted to operate, but mandatory table service, a ban on mingling, dancing and singing, and the four-square-metre rule must be observed.
On New Year’s Eve, there will be additional restrictions in place. The annual fireworks display will be downsized to a seven-minute spectacle, and the priority viewing areas that had previously been offered to frontline workers will no longer be available.
Two zones with additional restrictions in place will also be in effect on New Year's Eve.
The area around Circular Quay and the Royal Botanic Gardens, as well as several smaller areas around Lavender Bay, Milsons Point and Cremorne Point, have been designated the Green Zone, with limited access to the general public. Access to these areas will be restricted to:
- Residents who live within the zone and their guests.
- People with confirmed bookings at venues such as restaurants, hotels and bars.
- Hospitality workers at venues within the zone.
Anyone intending to enter the Green Zone, including residents living within this area, will need to apply for a permit to do so. You can lodge an application and can check if your address is within the Green Zone on the NSW.gov.au website.
Around the Green Zone is a secondary Yellow Zone, where certain restrictions will also apply. Entry to this zone will not be restricted to residents and their visitors, but outdoor gatherings in large numbers may be moved on by police. Several of the most popular spots for viewing the NYE fireworks display – including Bradfield Park, Blues Point Reserve, Mary Booth Reserve, Quibaree Park, Kurraba Reserve and Cremorne Reserve – will not be open to the public.
The previously announced lockdown orders on the Northern Beaches will also remain in place until further notice.
Berejiklian urged Sydneysiders to be on ‘high alert’ as the state’s contact tracers race to cut the chains of transmission that could lead to an explosion of new cases across the city. Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant noted that the number of people getting tested had shrunk in recent days, adding that anyone with even mild symptoms should be tested immediately.