Packed Melbourne crowds ring in midnight despite renewed Covid fears

·News Reporter
·3-min read

Thousands of revellers have taken to Melbourne streets for rowdy New Year’s Eve celebrations despite the emergence of new coronavirus cases in the state.

Victoria’s 60-day streak of no community transmission came to an end this week with eight cases reported on Thursday after a returned NSW traveller dined at a Thai restaurant.

A host of high risk locations across Melbourne have since been revealed, but the looming threat seemed to be the least of the partygoers’ worries last night.

Crowd of people in Melbourne's CBD for New Year's Eve.
Well over 100 people gathered in the CBD to bring in the new year. Source: Getty Images

Victoria’s current Covid rules dictate that people shouldn’t gather in groups of more than 100 outside and should maintain 1.5 metre social distancing.

Face masks are mandated indoors and on public transport, and “strongly recommended” where social distancing can’t be kept.

A couple are seen kissing as they bring in the New Year at Federation Square during New Year's Eve celebrations. Source: Getty
A couple are seen kissing as they bring in the New Year at Federation Square during New Year's Eve celebrations. Source: Getty

There were scenes of crowded revelry in the Melbourne CBD overnight however, with well over 100 people seen gathering at St Kilda and Federation Square.

Victoria's health department late on Wednesday released a list of high-risk locations linked to the new cases and urged anyone who had visited the sites to watch for symptoms.

The sites include Katlialo restaurant in Eaton Mall in Oakleigh; Mentone/Parkdale Beach; Century City Walk and Mocha Jo's in Glen Waverley and several others.

Victoria has also announced tighter border restrictions with NSW, adding to bans on the northern beaches, Greater Sydney and central coast.

From midnight Friday, anyone travelling from Wollongong and the Blue Mountains in NSW will not be allowed to enter Victoria.

Anyone already in Victoria who travelled to those regions since December 27 should get tested and stay at home until their results come back.

Crowd in Melbourne CBD for New Year's Eve.
Crowds packed together as they waited for the clock to strike midnight. Source: Getty Images
It's been a long year for Melbourne as revellers looked to welcome in a new one. Source: Getty
It's been a long year for Melbourne as revellers looked to welcome in a new one. Source: Getty

At least three cases reported yesterday are linked to the Smile Buffalo Thai Restaurant at Black Rock, Acting Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan said.

“On December 21, one case and two close contacts of cases attended this restaurant, as did a returned traveller from New South Wales,” she said.

“That traveller has been tested as a matter of urgency today, and working with NSW Health to investigate their movements in NSW.

“The traveller returned to NSW prior to the border permit system being put in place.”

With the border closing, there was a mad scramble on Thursday night as drivers queued to get into Victoria from NSW.

Fortunately, there has been no new cases detected in Victoria overnight, the state’s testing commander Jeroen Weimar revealed in a radio interview Friday morning.

Five cases recorded in the past 24 hours to 8pm last night have already been reported in the media, with a further three in hotel quarantine.

More than 13,000 tests were processed on Thursday.

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