Virus takes heavy toll on NYE festivities

·2-min read

Either the lights are out or everyone's being told to stay home at Australia's two biggest New Years Eve fireworks displays.

Sydney has largely banned crowds for its world-renowned pyrotechnic display, while Melbourne's fireworks are cancelled.

As much as everyone wants to put 2020 behind them, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will cast a long shadow over Australia's New Years Eve festivities.

A year ago, it was the unfolding bushfire crisis along the east coast that literally left a pall of smoke across celebrations.

Now restrictions, cancellations and travel restrictions will impact heavily on how the nation ushers in 2021.

NSW restrictions were tightened further on Wednesday as the state battles to control its growing outbreak.

While boats will be allowed on Sydney Harbour, they will have to abide by strict guidelines.

Rain is forecast and this will be good news for authorities, who are urging the public to watch the shortened midnight fireworks display on TV.

The 9pm kids-friendly fireworks will not go ahead and people will need permits to enter zones at Circular Quay, North Sydney and the CBD.

Likewise, the Victorian government is urging people not to head into Melbourne on Thursday night unless they have a hospitality booking.

Melbourne's fireworks would normally attract nearly half a million revellers but the display was cancelled more than a month ago.

Instead, the city has set up outdoor dining precincts to celebrate its hospitality industry.

Melbourne has a forecast in the low 20s for Thursday and Brisbane, like Sydney, is expecting rain.

That's in marked contrast to Perth and Adelaide, where sunny and hot conditions are forecast.

Canberra will can its fireworks for the second year in a row, joining Adelaide and Brisbane in cancelling their displays.

Hobart's fireworks will go ahead but like Sydney, people are being urged not to gather on the waterfront.

Darwin residents will need to register and wear wristbands to attend the city's two fireworks displays on Thursday night.

In marked contrast to the rest of the country, Perth's celebrations will be nearly normal and there will be two fireworks display.

But even here, people are being urged to register their details, stay socially distanced and use hand sanitiser.