Sydney: Australia’s three most populated states, currently battling the country’s largest Covid-19 outbreaks, have allowed New Year celebrations with slightly modified versions of their traditional fireworks displays.
On Thursday, the most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) reported 12,226 new cases, 746 hospitalized patients and one related death, reports Xinhua news agency.
Despite the escalating infections, the NSW government’s overall message is that residents, having endured months of lockdowns this year, must now use more “personal responsibility” as they “learn to live” with Covid-19.
As such, crowds are expected to pack the Sydney Harbour foreshores on Friday to watch fireworks light up the night skies in the capital city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Asked whether people should reconsider going out to celebrate, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said: “No, what I would say is, take personal responsibility, socially distance and follow the rules that are in place.”
However, there will be concessions made to hopefully contain a potential super-spreader event.
Spectators, for example, will need to book a ticket for most of the city’s viewing areas. Previously huge crowds would have freely gathered.
Victoria, the second most populated state, also has the nation’s second-largest Covid-19 outbreak, recording 5,137 new cases, 395 hospitalizations, and 13 deaths Thursday.
Victoria authorities are urging people to remain cautious as they welcome in 2022.
The state’s capital Melbourne will stage fireworks on Friday across four private “Celebration Zones” in an effort to reduce crowds and keep track of all attendees.
“These Celebration Zones will allow smaller crowds to gather in a controlled setting at different ends of the city, ensuring the safest possible event,” Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp told the national broadcaster ABC.
Queensland recorded 2,222 new cases Thursday, a jump of 633 over the previous day’s figures of 1,589.
Last year, the capital city of Brisbane cancelled its fireworks due to the pandemic.
The event will return this Friday with authorities saying spectators won’t have to be vaccinated but will need to check in with an app at the main viewing location.
There were a record of more than 21,000 new cases recorded across Australia on Thursday, meaning the country has reported more cases in the last two days than it did for the entirety of 2020.
The new caseload has thus increased to 362,691.
Australia also reported 15 deaths from Covid-19 on Thursday, the highest figure in recent days, taking the country’s overall toll to 2,225.
Till date, 94.3 per cent of Australians aged 16 and over had received one vaccine dose and 91.3 per cent were fully inoculated, according to the Department of Health.