Sydney tightens coronavirus restrictions on New Year’s Eve

Sydney, Australia, Dec 30 (efe-epa).- The New South Wales government tightened social distancing restrictions on New Year’s Eve after health authorities on Wednesday reported 18 new local cases of coronavirus and a possible cluster around Sydney, the most populated city in the country.

Half of the new infections are linked to the Northern Beaches, a group of coastal neighborhoods of 250,000 residents. The government has confined the residents of Northern Beaches to their homes since Dec.19.

The rest of the infections are in other neighborhoods of Sydney and the nearby town of Wollongong, about 100 km (60 miles) south of the city.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian there had been a proliferation of cases outside the Northern Beaches overnight.

“We anticipate that because of the nature of that extended family’s movements, there will be more cases from that cluster,” she said.

“We don’t want super-spreading events on New Year’s Eve.”

She said the authorities would enforce more New Year’s Eve restrictions for Sydney from Wednesday until further notice.

As such, the government has limited household gatherings in Greater Sydney to five people inside, down from 10, and 30 outdoors, down from 50 allowed earlier.

On the Northern Beaches, gatherings of five people will be permitted by the authorities.

“Our preferred advice is that people just stay home for New Year’s Eve, but if must have people over, don’t have more than five and please make sure you have adequate social distancing, good ventilation,” the premier said.

The authorities have also prohibited visits to nursing homes in the city.

The new surge in the cases came nearly two weeks after an outbreak of Covid-19 in Sydney prompted states to impose border restrictions a few days ahead of the start of the country’s main holiday season.

The government has also public attendance at the popular year end fireworks on the Bay Bridge.

Only people with special permits to go to shops or hospitality venues would be allowed to enter the downtown area.

The famous fireworks display takes place over Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House and is watched by over a million people, including tourists, every year from nearby parks and public spaces, as well as restaurants, skyscrapers, bars, and private yachts.

The spectacular display attracts a lot of global attention as Sydney is one of the first cities in the world to welcome in the new year.

But this time around, Sydney will usher in the New Year without crowds watching its famous fireworks display in the heart of the city.

Australia has so far recorded more than 28,350 cases of Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, including 909 deaths, most of which occurred during the outbreak between June and November in Melbourne. EFE-EPA


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