Sydney announces new restrictions ahead of New Year due to Covid-19

Warning signs are displayed on security fencing in the suburb of Kirribilli ahead of this year's firework display on December 30, 2020 in Sydney

Australia has announced new restrictions for Sydney ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations, the city is battling a worsening outbreak after months of next to no local cases. Officials reported it had grown to 147 cases on Wednesday.

The news comes amid anger over footage of young revellers seen on Sydney’s Bronte Beach on Christmas Day. Immigration minister Alex Hawke said tourists caught flouting public health restrictions could be deported. On Wednesday, the New South Wales (NSW) state government announced further restrictions for New Year’s Eve following the discovery of a new cluster in a separate part of the city – believed to have spread during Christmas gatherings.

The crowd of backpackers, many wearing Santa hats, at Bronte Beach on Christmas Day
Locals were shocked to see the partying crowds at Sydney’s Bronte Beach on Christmas Day

“We don’t want New Year’s Eve to be the cause of a super-spreader event,” said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Households will now be restricted to only five guests from Thursday, down from the previous 10-person limit, outdoor gathering numbers have also been cut to 30 from 50. Every other state and territory in Australia maintains a travel ban on people from Sydney. Sydney’s traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks celebrations will still go ahead but authorities have already banned group gatherings at vantage points around the harbour. Australia has recorded 909 deaths and about 28,300 cases since the pandemic began, a number far lower than many other rich nations.

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