London. Edinburgh. Athens. New Dehli. Paris.
Revellers in massive capital cities across the globe have been told to stay safe and ring in the new year at home, with public celebrations cancelled.
But in Sydney, throngs of people are expected to flock to the city’s vantage points to watch its famous New Year’s Eve fireworks display, despite NSW experiencing a dramatic spike in coronavirus cases.
Some 11,201 cases were reported on Wednesday, almost double the state’s previous record, as pyrotechnicians worked on last minute preparations for the show.
The City of Sydney says it can’t predict how many people will turn out for the display, but five of the six locations it manages are sold out with about 17,000 tickets booked.
Tickets are still being sold for 25 other locations, which have capacity for almost 87,000 people.
Masks are encouraged, unvaccinated people are asked to stay home and tickets for viewing spots are limited, but the spiralling outbreak has largely failed to put a dampener on the event, which last year proceeded with crowds banned from the CBD.
A team of 50 from Foti International Fireworks will launch six tonnes of fireworks across two displays at 9pm and midnight.
More than 25,000 shooting effects will be fired from the top, facade and sides of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, five floating barges will launch 9,000 aerial shells, and another 6,000 fireworks will shoot from the tops of the Sydney Opera House sails.
“Whales, cubes, sunflower shells, whirlwinds and colour-changing fireworks are some of the surprises in store for Sydney’s New Year’s Eve 2021,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
“The Foti team spend more than eight days getting every firework into position to be launched on the night. I don’t think anyone is going to walk away disappointed!”
Fireworks extraordinaire Fortunato Foti will this year celebrate 25 years of creating the Sydney Harbour show.
“Nothing compares to the exhilaration of creating Sydney’s New Year’s Eve displays,” he said.
“Creating an event of this scale and being responsible for entertaining millions of people across Australia and around the world is what it’s all about.
“We promise a show that everyone will enjoy, whether they’re watching it around the harbour, at home or online.”
Premier Dominic Perrottet has defended his government’s decision to keep the state open with few restrictions, despite the rising cases.
The government made a pact with residents that if they got vaccinated, life would begin to return to normal, he says.
“The success that everybody has had right across the state has ensured that we’ve been able to open up as quickly as possible, but as safely as possible,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“We need to learn to live alongside the virus and we’re doing just that.”
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has urged people to continue to take active steps to keep themselves safe over the festive season.
“What individuals can do is not go out and about when you’ve got symptoms. Get tested instead.
“Be cautious around those big events.
“If someone says, ‘how about we go and book a venue’ say, ‘well, is it a well ventilated venue’?
“When you’re there ask people to keep the windows open.
“Simple things like that can really reduce the risk.”