New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian says New Year’s Eve celebrations are being wound back to “avoid super spreading events” as the state records five locally acquired coronavirus cases.
From more than 15,000 Covid-19 tests carried out in the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday, all of the positive infections were found on Sydney’s northern beaches.
Four were linked to the Avalon cluster, which now stands at 126, and the fifth is a previously reported case, whose source of infection remains under investigation.
NSW Health also announced another Covid-19 death, a man in his 70s who died from respiratory illness on December 21.
The man contracted the virus in March and returned a negative coronavirus test but his death certificate was linked to ongoing complications with the virus.
The latest death has lifted the number of NSW Covid-19 related deaths to 56.
The latest cases come as the NSW government announced a litany of changes to New Year Eve’s celebrations and into 2021.
“Apologies for being so strict,” Berejiklian said.
“We’re trying to be as generous as possible, but again, we don’t want to create any super spreading events on New Year’s Eve, which then ruins it for everybody across the state moving forward.”
NSW frontline workers, such as nurses and doctors, would no longer be given a front-row seat to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks on the city harbour foreshore.
“We don’t want any crowds on the foreshores around Sydney whatsoever,” she said, adding it was “too much of a health risk”.
“We’re going to say to those frontline workers we previously invited, we’ll find another opportunity during the year to recognise what you have done.”
Some previous restrictions, which were introduced after 19 December in response to the northern beaches outbreak, would remain in place on New Year’s Eve.
This includes people in Greater Sydney only having up to 10 household visitors and hospitality venues adhering to one person per 4-square-metre rule.
However, the state government would reduce the limit on outdoor gatherings from 100 people to 50 people in Greater Sydney, as long as people are socially distancing.
Where possible, however, the premier has asked residents to reduce mobility.
“My strong message to everyone in Greater Sydney this year is to watch the fireworks on TV,” Berejiklian said.
“We are also asking for a little more time from residents to help us stamp out this outbreak, especially if they live on the northern beaches.”
For the northern peninsula of the northern beaches, stay at home provisions have been extended until 9 January “because of the number of active cases” and because authorities have not found the “root cause” of the outbreak.
On New Year’s Eve, people have a one-day exemption and can have up to five people in their home as long as they are from the zone.
In the southern zone of the northern beaches, stay at home provisions have been extended until 2 January.
On New Year’s Eve, up to 10 people are allowed into the home but that number includes children and all guests need to be from the same zone.