The fate of Sydney’s famous New Year’s Eve fireworks is up in the air over fears the crowded event could spark a massive new coronavirus outbreak.
About one million people flock to the city’s iconic foreshore every year to watch the elaborate 12-minute display where fireworks detonate from the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore admitted it ‘may not be responsible’ for the crowded celebrations to go ahead, but said it was too soon to call it off.
She claimed the decision ultimately rests with NSW Health to determine whether the event can be held safely.
‘It would be incredibly sad if Sydney New Year’s Eve cannot go ahead, but that is a real possibility we’re facing,’ she said.
But frustrated mayors across the city looking to Ms Moore for guidance have urged her to make the call as they attempt to plan local celebrations.
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‘The clock is ticking and the longer the City of Sydney leaves it, the harder it will be for us all to deliver a safe event,’ North Sydney mayor Jilly Gibson told The Sydney Morning Herald.
‘Mayor to mayor, I’m asking Clover to call this.’
While North Sydney Council does not host its own fireworks, it helps control the crowds that gather to watch the harbour display.
Ms Gibson acknowledged Ms Moore’s reluctance to cancel the show more than four months in advance, but added the council needs time to plan a way of manage the event in a safe way.
Last week, NSW tourism minister Stuart Ayres said the event should go ahead ‘after such a putrid 2020’.
‘I would love to see fireworks on the Harbour Bridge to celebrate 2021,’ Mr Ayres told reporters.
‘I think everyone’s just had a pretty sh***y 2020 and having a fantastic celebration of starting a new year is probably going to out a smile on people’s faces.’
He warned it wouldn’t be a traditional New Year’s Eve celebration and will be without the one million revellers that pack the city’s harbour foreshore.
‘But if we get an opportunity to celebrate a new year, put 2020 behind us and do so on the world stage, that’s got to be a good thing, doesn’t it?’ Mr Ayres said.
‘It’s been a c**p 2020. We all know what’s in been like. Bring on 2021. Let’s have some fireworks to celebrate the end of this year and the start of a new one.’
City of Sydney Council is working with the government to assess the impact of COVID-19 on all major events, including New Year’s Eve.
‘These events are subject to the NSW Government’s public health orders, which are continuously amended to address the local impact of the pandemic,’ a spokesman told Daily Mail Australia.
Where events are deemed safe enough to occur, we will prepare and enact COVID safe plans and physical distancing guidelines to safeguard the health and safety of our community, staff and contractors.’
It will the first time in 32 years if Sydney’s famous fireworks display is cancelled.
With just four months to go, some don’t believe the fireworks should go ahead as the battle to control a second wave of fresh infections continues.
‘It sends a message we’re out of the woods, when we’re not,’ University of NSW Professor Mary-Louise McLaws told Nine News.
Bayside Council Mayor Joe Awada added: ‘How can you possible comply with health order and restrictions with 1.5 metres with 70,000 people? It would be impossible to control.
Last year’s New Year’s Eve celebrations in Sydney were marred by controversy after widespread last-ditch calls for the event to be cancelled due to the horror bushfire season.
More than 300,000 Australians signed a Change.org petition calling for the event to be cancelled and give the money to drought-stricken farmers and tireless firefighters as the bushfire crisis hits frightening levels across the east coast.
Dozens of homes and properties were destroyed on December 31 last year as horrific fire tore through coastal NSW and Victoria.
A number of councils in Sydney and across NSW cancelled their celebrations, including Parramatta, Wollongong, Campbelltown, Huskisson, Armidale, Maitland and Canberra.
Sydney’s Bayside Council has already announced its celebrations have been scrapped for a second consecutive year.