The coronavirus pandemic has prompted authorities in Australia to ban people from witnessing in person one of the world’s most iconic New Year’s celebrations.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced Monday that Sydney Harbor would be closed to the public Thursday night, New Year’s Eve, to prevent the disease from spreading outside the city’s Northern Beach suburbs. A total of 125 people in that neighborhood have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, since mid-December, including five new cases recorded Monday.
The annual New Year’s observance features a spectacular fireworks display that lights up the nighttime skies over Sydney’s famous Opera House. At least 1 million people are normally in attendance, but Premier Berejiklian said the safest way for Sydney residents to view the fireworks show is from home, on television.
"On New Year's Eve, we don't want any crowds on the foreshore around Sydney whatsoever," she said.
In addition to banning the public from the Harbor, Berejiklian has also limited private gatherings to just 10 people.