NSW eases COVID-19 restriction for NYE; Is Australia out of the woods?

  • November 22, 2020 12:09 AM AEDT
  • Edita Ivancevic
    Journalist Edita Ivancevic
    212 Posts

    Edita is a young journalist who graduated in 2019 from the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb, Croatia, specialising in Television and Public Relations. Since the teenage years, Edita gained knowledge of news reporting and analysing complex curre...

NSW eases COVID-19 restriction for NYE; Is Australia out of the woods?

Summary

  • NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced loosening the restrictions for upcoming holidays, specifically for the widely famous NYE fireworks.
  • Sydney CBD will be the main attraction during the night, hosting a special concert and the firework show at midnight.
  • The government will allow up to 3,000 individuals in the city’s CBD, but only if they hold a permit issued by Service NSW.
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New South Wales government has given up on strict limits for Christmas and New Year’s Eve Celebrations after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a possibility for gatherings of 3,000 people in Sydney’s CBD.

This news comes as many Australians have been wondering if the world-famous Sydney fireworks will take place and under what conditions. After the government revealed an affirmative answer to that question, Ms Berejiklian added that no individual would be allowed to Sydney CBD without an official permit.

However, Ms Berejiklian warns that everyone needs to remain together for the same goal – being COVID-19 free. To achieve that, the government is urging Australians and other residents to respect the guidelines provided for COVID-19 contamination.

NSW is on a 14-day run without any community transmission of the novel virus. However, the government will continue being cautious about COVID-19 clusters and will keep easing the restrictions slowly so the Victorian and South Australian scenario would not occur.

ALSO READ: Why is South Australia lifting the lockdown earlier than expected?

What Australians need to do?

All Australian residents will need to apply with Service NSW for an issued paper that will clear their entrance at dining hotspots, such as Circular Quay and North Sydney. Some will be able to enter the metropolitan areas by showing legit booking confirmation for the venue they are attending.

Individuals will also need to have a permit in case they are visiting family or friends that reside in the CBD. Sydney CBD residents will need to have a permit if they want to spend time outside their homes. This will be possible from 7 December on the official government website.

Moreover, Sydney Opera House, Campbell’s Cove, and Mrs Macquarie’s Point will be reserved for frontline workers that showed their commitment to do well during the pandemic.

What are the new alterations?

Even though these restrictions seem promising and a lot healthier than the previous situation, the government will not allow citizens to wander freely around the city, due to the persistent high risk of infection.

As there will be a special concert for the NYE celebration, only a limited number of people will be permitted to witness it in person, while others will have online access for a live stream. Again, frontline workers will have an exclusive place for watching the seven-minute firework session. 

In all other areas, the government has also introduced a couple of separate social distancing restrictions that will apply during fireworks:

  • For venues with arranged seating, one person per square meter will be allowed to sit down without any disturbance.
  • Places with unarranged seating areas will need to be four square meters apart from other venue attendees.

New health safety restrictions will also be in favour of church events. Namely, singing choirs of maximum of 30 people will be able to perform in outdoor areas effective from Monday next week. Individuals aged 12 and over will have to cover their face with a mask in case they want to attend the singing event.

All other outdoor church events will be able to host up to 500 worshipers from December. Funeral and wedding receptions will be eligible for up to 300 guests, as well as corporate events.

Another case that Ms Berejiklian is still considering is a permit for 20 parties at home venues, but that decision has not been entirely agreed on yet.

Is NSW still testing large numbers of people?

NSW did not cease with testing Australians for COVID-19, as the fear of the virus still lingers throughout the country.

Yesterday alone, there were more than 20,000 tests performed on NSW residents, but only five of them came back positive. All positive tests occurred in returning travellers from abroad, which are quarantined in hotels for the next two weeks.

All travellers coming from South Australia are urged not to go to non-essential travels. However, those that do decide to travel interstate will need to complete a declaration form, informing authorities of their whereabouts.

Is Australia heading towards a COVID-19-free environment?

All things considered, Australia has performed outstandingly well compared to the rest of the world, when it comes to tackling COVID-19. Summer is knocking on the door with spring already getting warmer - a safer environment for containing viruses in general.

However, with recent outbreaks in South Australia, the whole nation had shown it prefers the elimination strategy, compared to most European countries that have implemented the suppression scheme.

If the situation remains as it is now, and if COVID-19 does not show signs of being an airborne disease, NSW should stay mainly coronavirus-free for the foreseeable future.

However, the government will need to figure out a way of how to safely open the borders for tourists without brining significant clusters to the country. International travel still remains uncertain and not a priority for the Australian government.

For now, the government is soon expecting the COVID-19 vaccine and has already committed ~A$80 million for the first doses, which may allow Australians to travel freely inside and outside the country.

ALSO READ: Adelaide under high restrictions amid a new cluster of Covid19  

What are Australians’ views on the upcoming vaccine?

Recent research has shown that most Australians have a favourable opinion about the COVID-19 vaccine, even though no vaccine has proved to be effective within a period shorter than three to four years.

According to the survey that collected 3,000 replies across the country, three in five Australians said they were willing to take a COVID-19 jab to prevent the spread of the virus. Six per cent of Australians voted against ever taking the vaccine, while seven per cent stated they are not likely to receive the jab.

In a separate study, six per cent from 1,000 Australians had also shown apprehensions about COVID-19 vaccine, saying they do not want to receive it.

The bigger survey found that women, populists, religious people, and individuals living in disadvantaged regions are more likely to feel suspicious about the upcoming vaccine compared to other social groups.

One in three Australians from another report said they would take the vaccine as soon as it becomes widely available. Their wish might come true early next year, as the government has already secured four pharmaceutical vaccines.

Depending on which jab proves to be the most effective and when it becomes available, the government will purchase millions of shots for frontline workers and elderly first. Others are expected to start with vaccination from March next year.

However, it is still not clear if the government will make the jab mandatory.

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