This is a live blog of everything Sydney Spectaculars relating to COVID-19. Here are the headlines though:
- Vivid Sydney 2020 has been cancelled.
- Handa Opera On The Harbour 2020 – ‘La Traviata’ has been cancelled.
- Australian Government has banned non-essential outdoors events of 500 people or more in attendance in a stationary position.
- Australian Government has banned indoor events of 100 people or more in attendance in a stationary position.
- Darling Harbour’s Saturday Night Fireworks have been cancelled until further notice.
- The Australian Government has announced an 1 person per 4 square metres arrangement for non-essential indoor gatherings of less than 100 people until further notice.
- (UPDATED 24 MARCH 11PM AEDT) The Australian Government has announced new restrictions that affect events.
- The Australian Government has released 2 ‘Coronavirus Australia’ apps & a WhatsApp channel for COVID-19
- Richard Wilkins, (co-)host of ‘Sydney New Year’s Eve’ 1996 to 2005 television broadcasts tested negative for COVID-19 on the 1st of April after being tested positive at least 3 times since the 15th of March.
- Earth Hour recommends going digital instead of to ‘on-ground events’.
- Venue closures & restrictions for Australian Earth Hour events
If you have any other COVID-19 related questions, contact us via this contact form (Please do not send queries regarding medical advice. We are not a formal medical expert. You can find medical/interstate travel information below. For international travel advice, contact your national government. However, Australian travel restrictions are linked below):
Medical Information: World Health Organization
Travel Into Australia: Australian Department Of Home Affairs
1ST OF APRIL 2020:
RICHARD WILKINS TESTS NEGATIVE!
Richard Wilkins, long-time television (co-)host of ‘Sydney New Year’s Eve’ from the 1996 edition to the 2005 edition, has tested negative to COVID-19.
He was first tested positive on the 15th of March and had remained in home quarantine since – a total of 19 days – where he was tested positive at least 2 more times.
On his Instagram, he wrote, accompanied with a video of him symbolically throwing an empty box of Corona beer into the recycling bin:
…and Coronavirus you’re outta here! I’ve been cleared to return to work by the incredible team at NSW Health. #NEGATIVE!! Thanks all… KIA KAHA… much love. RW x
We wish Richard future good health & all the people still infected with COVID-19 to get well very soon.
29TH OF MARCH 2020:
The Australian Government has released 2 ‘Coronavirus Australia’ apps & a WhatsApp channel for COVID-19.
The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, today announced:
Today we have been able to put in place the WhatsApp feature, and if you search for “aus.gov.au/whatsapp” you will get access to a new messaging service which enables us to talk to more Australians in terms of basic health advice, updates on the measures that are being put in place by State and Federal Governments, and that will assist you to get to be accurate and timely information about what is being done by governments around the country to support you and your family.I can also say that on the Apple app store, you can download the coronavirus app.I did that this morning and that is available and is doing the same thing, providing further information, more resources“That is an official source of information and I would ask for the support of media in promoting those channels where people can get access to that information.
25TH OF MARCH 2020:
RICHARD WILKINS UPDATE
So …. I’ve now returned a positive result THREE times… still can’t believe it as I still have ZERO symptoms. They tested me again today ,.. and hopefully will return a NEGATIVE result. Fingers crossed!!! The suggestion is …. that 3 days after the last symptom …people should ‘assume’ that they’re over this thing … and ‘proceed with caution’ ! I find this totally unacceptable and irresponsible! I completely understand the fact that the last thing the Health Dept wants to do is spend days retesting people like me… and God knows that I don’t want to soak up resources… but I don’t see how I can walk out my front door until I have a clean ‘bill of health’! I know the health system is fighting a huge battle … and resources are stretched …but in clear conscience … I can’t put others at risk … until I’m assured that I’m not POSITIVE anymore ! Love to all RW XX
24TH OF MARCH 2020:
NEW RESTRICTIONS & MORE VENUE CLOSURES FOR AUSTRALIAN EARTH HOUR EVENTS
The PM announces restrictions have been extendedHe says the aim was to do so in a manner that was “consistent” with the types of measures announced on Sunday night.The Government has completed the list of the types of activities they have determined are “appropriate” at this time.
As well as those that aren’t.
From midnight tomorrow night these activities will no longer be permitted
- Cafes are limited to takeaway, as was announced on Sunday
- Cinemas, nightclubs, casinos, gambling venues, adult entertainment venues, concert venues and stadiums, which were also announced on Sunday
- Amusement parks and arcades
- Indoor and outdoor play centres
- Community and recreation centres, health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre, spin facilities, saunas, wellness centres, boot camps
- Personal training must move outdoors and is limited to a maximum of 10 people
- Social, sporting-based activities and swimming pools
- Weddings can go ahead but only with no more than five people and funerals can go ahead but only with no more than 10 people. Both are subject to social distancing rules
- Galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, libraries, community centres, non-essential facilities, community facilities such as halls and Police Citizens Youth Clubs
- Hairdressers and barber shops can continue services, but the Prime Minister says social distancing must be practised and the number of people on premises must be limited
- Food courts in shopping centres will no longer be permitted, though takeaway can continue
- Auction houses
- Outdoor and indoor markets will be addressed specifically in individual states and territories
- Personal services such as beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlours (but not physiotherapy) are banned
‘Stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary you go out’The PM says people should only go out for the “basics, going out for exercise, perhaps with your partner or family members provided it’s a small group, that’s fine”.But people should not go out and “participate more broadly in the community unless you’re shopping for basics or there are medical needs or you’re providing care and support to an individual at another place”.“Going to work [is permitted] … where you can, work from home. That is encouraged.”The Prime Minister says that visits to your home should be kept to a minimum and with a very small number of guests.“So that means barbecues with lots of friends, or even family, extended family, coming together to celebrate one-year-olds’ birthday parties and those sorts of things, we can’t do those things now.”
The states and territories will be looking at making house parties an offenceMr Morrison says: “House parties where someone wants to now have social events at someone’s home, the states and territories will be particularly looking at that one and consider whether they’ll specifically put measures in place that could lead to that being and offence for those who have organised those types of events.”The Prime Minister adds: “Now, the medical experts panel have made suggestions about how that can be managed.“It’s very difficult to put a number on it. But the point about it is this: If you’re gathering together in a group, say, 10 people, together, outside in a group, that’s not OK. We’ve got to move people on. It’s not a hard and fast rule. I say it only for illustrative purposes.”
This means, in Australia, if you are still planning an ‘on-ground’ Earth Hour 2020 event, it must follow the new restrictions above as well as no longer be held in a venue mentioned above which is restricted from opening.
23RD OF MARCH 2020:
VENUE CLOSURE CLARIFICATION
New South Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said this:
New South Wales, along with every other state, will be putting in additional enforcement measures from midday today, and as was said last night by the Prime Minister.
This includes venues such as pubs, clubs, gyms, cinemas and entertainment venues. Restaurants and cafes and the like will be restricted to home delivery and takeaway.
Today, this morning, the nsw.gov.au website will have specific details about which venues will no longer be allowed to operate in the normal way from noon today. This will provide certainty to businesses.
This means, in Australia, if you are still planning an ‘on-ground’ Earth Hour 2020 event, it can no longer be held in a venue mentioned above which is restricted from opening.
22ND OF MARCH 2020:
VENUE CLOSURES FOR AUSTRALIAN EARTH HOUR EVENTS
Licensed areas of pubs and other venues to be closed tomorrow
“When we all don’t do the right thing then it has real implications for others,” says Mr Morrison
He says in stage 1 of Government plan that gatherings in the following facilities will be closed as of midday tomorrow. Licensed areas in hotels and pubs.
Entertainment venues and casinos.Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to TAKE AWAY.
“This should highlight to all Australians how serious this is,” Mr Morrison said.
Scott Morrison says ‘no confidence’ that initial measures would have been followedThe Prime Minister said during the press conference that the reason for the new restrictions being put in place is that he and the CMO Brendan Murphy had no confidence the initial warnings were being followed, and highlighted the actions of the younger members of society in his comments.“What we’re doing here is dealing with the principal places of social gathering,” Mr Morrison said.“We don’t now have any confidence that people would refrain from gathering in those ways, in those places, pubs, clubs, nightclubs and Dr Murphy has made it pretty clear that’s principally among the younger community.“We have no confidence that will be followed, so unfortunately, because guidelines can’t be followed, then for public health reasons we now need to take a further action which shuts those gatherings down.”
Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy also had a bit to say – here are the key parts of his speech
- We must live differently“If Australia is going to get through the challenge of this pandemic over the coming months, we have to live differently,” Dr Murphy said.
- Implores younger Aussies to take this seriously
“We’ve been making that point very clear over the last week. But it’s also clear that some people haven’t got it. I’m particularly talking to young people who may think they’re immune to the effects of this virus,” he said.
“As a young person you don’t want to be responsible for the severe and possibly fatal disease of an elder, vulnerable Australian.”
- Mass events a problem“We’ve had some events in Australia where 35 people have picked up the virus from one particular function. We cannot allow this sort of spread to happen.”
- High international impact“Many of the cases that we have seen in the last few days have been from international travelers. We’ve seen some irresponsible behaviour from people who were told to quarantine and have not. And they have spread the virus. We now have to be absolutely rigid. If you come back from anywhere, a cruise ship, a plane, and you come back to this country, you go home and you quarantine for two weeks, no exceptions. You are putting your fellow Australians at risk if you break that rule.”
PM’s office releases statement
This is a direct media release from the PM’s OfficeAustralians should expect these measures to be in place for at least 6 months.The following facilities will be restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:
- Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
- Gyms and indoor sporting venues
- Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
- Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
- Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).Isolated remote community hubs are not included in these restrictions.Other facilities are not impacted, but will be considered under stage 2 restrictions, if necessary.These measures also apply to outdoor spaces associated with the above venues.Leaders noted that these enhanced measures build on existing measures to slow the virus and save lives:
- No non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people outside or more than 100 people inside.
- All non-essential indoor gatherings of less than 100 people must have no more than one person per 4sqm. All Australians should expect their local businesses to be following this rule.
- Where possible, keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others
- Avoid non essential travel
- Restrictions on entering aged care homes to protect older Australians
20TH OF MARCH 2020:
DARLING HARBOUR’S SATURDAY NIGHT FIREWORKS HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED AS CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
Following advice from the Federal Government to limit public gatherings of more than 500 people, Fireworks in Darling Harbour will be cancelled until further notice.
We encourage you to refer to the NSW Health website for the latest information relating to COVID-19.
Next Saturday’s fireworks were not planned to go ahead anyway due to Earth Hour.
The Australian Government has announced an 1 person per 4 square metres arrangement for non-essential indoor gatherings of less than 100 people until further notice.
The Prime Minister, The Honourable Scott Morrison MP, announced:
What we are now moving to is an arrangement for gatherings of less than 100, is that they would be four square metres provided per person in an enclosed space, in a room. So that’s 2m by 2m. So for example, if you’ve got a room, if you’ve got a premises, if you’ve got a meeting room or something like that, that’s 100 square metres, then you can have 25 people in that room.
The ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 people or more & non-essential outdoor gatherings of 500 people or more still remains in place until further notice.
This means, in Australia, if you are still planning an ‘on-ground’ Earth Hour 2020 event indoors, whatever your room size is (in square metres), divide it by 4. That is your new capacity, unless it is above 100 people. If it is above 100 people, your capacity is 100 people no matter what.
18TH OF MARCH 2020:
DARLING HARBOUR PROVIDES AN UPDATE
From their ‘Coronavirus Update’ webpage, which will be updated regularly:
In these unprecedented times, we appreciate the ongoing community concern about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We want to reassure you that the team at Darling Harbour have been vigilant in monitoring the situation and share how we are proactively implementing measures to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of all customers, retailers, staff and local community.
A FOCUS ON CLEANLINESS AND HYGIENE PRACTICES
We have high standards of rigorous cleaning and hygiene through our shopping and dining precincts and have recently increased our vigilance of cleaning in frequently used touch points.
We are working closely with our retailer partners to ensure they follow the same levels of cleanliness and hygiene.
As per the guidance of the Department of Health, we encourage all customers to maintain good personal hygiene practices including washing your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, covering your mouth while coughing and sneezing, and keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent germs from spreading. If you are unwell, stay home and seek medical attention immediately if you are showing any of the viral symptoms. If you have travelled to the high-risk countries, a 14-day self-quarantine should be followed, as per health guidelines.
For additional information please visit: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov
DARLING HARBOUR REMAINS OPEN FOR BUSINESS
With a strong focus on following the necessary wellbeing precautions, Darling Harbour remains open and trading so that we can continue to serve our community and our retailers, ensuring that products and services are readily available. Individual store trading hours may vary and are subject to change and we encourage our customers to keep up-to-date via our website, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As circumstances continue to evolve, we will remain vigilant and responsive to amending our approach, ensuring that the health, safety and wellbeing of our customers, retailers, staff and community is our highest priority.
We thank you for your continued support.
The Australian Government has BANNED non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 people or more & non-essential outdoor gatherings of 500 people or more until further notice.
The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, today announced:
The decisions they have made is that to put a ban on non-essential gatherings of persons 100 or greater in indoor areas. Outdoor areas it is 500 and indoor areas it is 100. That is effective now, as of today and those arrangements, in terms of the legal enforcement of those measures are being put in place by the states and territories.
There is a baseline that has been established amongst the national cabinet which reflected in a lot of the legislation that was put in in relation to the outdoor ban and that is an airport, public transportation, which includes public transportation facilities, such as stations, platforms, stops, trains, trams, buses, these are essential. Medical and health service facilities, emergency service facilities, disability or aged care facilities, correctional facilities, youth justice centres or other places of custody, courts or tribunals.
Parliaments, food market, supermarket, grocery store, retail store, shopping centre that is necessary for the normal business of those premises. Office buildings, factories, construction sites, mining sites, necessary for their normal operation.
Non-essential is everything else. States and Territories have the ability to add to those lists as they see fit, based on the advice and we are seeking to coordinate that.
This means, in Australia, if you are still planning an ‘on-ground’ Earth Hour 2020 event indoors, it must have 100 people or less in attendance & if outdoors, it must have 500 people or less.
17TH OF MARCH 2020:
EARTH HOUR GOES DIGITAL
Earth Hour has not been cancelled but instead of ‘on-ground events’, Earth Hour is urging people to do Earth Hour digitally instead this year. They have added these questions to their global Frequently Asked Questions’ webpage:
Will Earth Hour events take place this year, given the threat of the COVID-19 (coronavirus)?
The well-being and health of our supporters and staff is our top priority. Many countries are currently facing a health crisis with the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives from this outbreak and our thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones or who are sick. Given the unprecedented circumstances, the Earth Hour global organizing team is advising that Earth Hour is celebrated digitally this year but countries should decide what to do for the best in line with national guidelines.
There are many ways to encourage participation online or at home so your communities can show support for the planet on and around the hour. If you are planning an Earth Hour event online in your own community, here are some great ideas. If you do decide to continue with an on-the-ground Earth Hour event, please closely follow national health guidelines on hosting large public events and make a decision based on the advice provided by your country’s Ministry of Health.
Wherever you are, you can help make this year’s Earth Hour bigger than ever by speaking up for nature loss and and showing your support online by adding your Voice for the Planet. Please ask your family and friends to do the same.
Earth Hour has always been a people-led movement. The well-being and health of our supporters and staff is our top priority. We stand in solidarity and support of our global communities and encourage all participants to celebrate Earth Hour safely.
Do you think it is appropriate to celebrate Earth Hour when the world is facing a global health crisis? Why doesn’t WWF simply cancel Earth Hour?
The well-being and health of our supporters and staff is our top priority. In the midst of the COVID 19 health crisis, we need to stand together now more than ever to safeguard our future and the future of our planet. Earth Hour 2020 is more than a symbolic event, it is a global environmental movement to stop the destruction of nature on which our health, happiness and future prosperity depends. Nature is the planet’s life support system and gives us everything we need; from the air we breathe, the water we drink, to the food we eat. The link between nature and good health has been well documented. Even spending two hours a week in nature is known to lead to better health. Nature underpins our life, health and well-being but it is in a crisis! Now is not the time to pause our collective work, but a time to respond more creatively, work more collaboratively, and listen and adapt more effectively.
We are therefore advising that communities celebrate Earth Hour digitally this year and follow national health guidelines on attending and hosting public events. Whichever way you, your community, your family or your friends choose to celebrate Earth Hour this year, we can still raise our collective voices to secure a New Deal for Nature and People, even if this year, we are doing it from the safety of our homes. Show your support online by adding your Voice for the Planet. Please ask your family and friends to do the same.
Some of the countries celebrating Earth Hour digitally are in fact hosting virtual events as exciting and ambitious as our physical events. Stay tuned for more updates on this page to find out more.
What is WWF’s message to the thousands of gatherings planned for Earth Hour?
The health and safety of your community should be your first priority. Please follow these best practice guidelines:
- The Earth Hour global organising team advises that communities celebrate Earth Hour digitally this year. There are many ways to encourage participation online or at home to show support for the planet on and around the hour – here are some great ideas.
- If you decide to host an Earth Hour on-ground event, you should always closely follow national health guidelines on hosting public events and make a decision based on the advice provided by your Ministry of Health. And remember, your attendees may have concerns. You can reassure them by providing them with the latest information, based on national health guidelines.
- We recommend you continue monitoring and following national health guidelines closely as circumstances are dynamic and can change on a daily basis. It would be good to have contingency plans in place in the case of an on-ground event cancellation. Do also prepare a communication plan to keep participants and partners informed. Ensure timely and transparent communication.
Whichever way you, your family or your friends choose to participate in Earth Hour this year, your collective voices are vitally important. Together, we must secure a New Deal for Nature and People to protect and restore nature for people and the planet.
Earth Hour is on Saturday the 28th of March 2020 between 8:30pm & 9:30pm in your time zone.
Remember, it is the only Sydney Spectacular you can attend anywhere on Earth. It started in Sydney in 2007 by the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) before going global the following year.
Of course, Australian Earth Hour on-ground events, including in Sydney where the Spectacular was started, are advised by the Australian Federal Government to impose a 500 person capacity.
And remember, anywhere around the world, you can still turn the lights off for 1 hour at 8:30pm in your time zone if it safe to do so due to the COVID-19 virus & according to your National Government. But if you can’t, follow the digital options in the links featured in the Frequently Asked Questions above.
16th of March 2020:
HANDA OPERA ON SYDNEY HARBOUR 2020 – LA TRAVIATA HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED AS CANCELLED
Opera Australia today released this statement:
On advice from the government, we have…cancelled the season of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour — La Traviata.
If you have tickets for a cancelled performance, you’ll receive an email with further details about how to refund or exchange your tickets.
If you have any questions, please email email@example.com. We are experiencing long wait times on the phone. Our box offices in Sydney and Melbourne are closed to visitors.
The month-long nightly ticketed performance has been one of the most well known performances globally to see due to it’s backdrop, unique stages & use of fireworks.
The event began in 2012 with a performance of ‘La Traviata’ and last year, they did a musical for the 1st time. The 2020 edition, which returns to being an opera, was due to begin on March 27 & conclude on April 26. Until late March 2022 it is then.
For those who will miss out, you can buy a copy of the 2012 version as well as the other editions since via this link: http://abccommercial.com/…/progr…/handa-opera-sydney-harbour
15th of March 2020:
VIVID SYDNEY 2020 HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED AS CANCELLED
The full statement can be found here.
It is Australia’s largest & most attended (around 2.4 million) event, surpassing even the more iconic ‘Sydney New Year’s Eve’. Vivid Sydney begun in 2009 while Sydney New Year’s Eve begun in 1976, cancelled in 1987 & 1988 and became world famous at the turn of the Millennium.
Vivid Sydney began in 2009. The 23-day event was due to begin on May 22 this year with a media launch due on Tuesday (now clearly cancelled). Until late-May 2021 it is then.
This has been a BIG announcement that only just broke (early hours here in Australia).
Most significant since the Sydney New Year’s Eve cancellation of 1987 (due to a mass murder in The Rocks on New Year’s Eve 1986)
RICHARD WILKINS TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
13th of March 2020:
The Australian Government advised people and event organisers not to attend/hold gatherings that feature 500 people or more in a stationary position from Monday the 16th of March.
Public transport is exempted from this advice.
This advice will be clarified on Sunday the 15th of March by the Australian Government.
Permanent Sydney Spectaculars
We do not believe Badu Gili, the light show on Luna Park Sydney’s Ferris Wheel & the Australian National Maritime Museum projections (if any are currently or proposed to be on before Vivid Sydney, please check with the Museum if any are on or proposed to be on) would be affected as they would receive a stationary audience of less than 500 people. However, the Saturday night Darling Harbour fireworks may feature a crowd of more than 500 people.
We have contacted Darling Harbour for clarification on the Saturday night fireworks.
Vivid Sydney, which begins on May 22, features some of these types of stationary 500+ people events. It’s signature event, the Vivid Light Walk, is not yet affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but some Light projection shows and particularly any Vivid Music & Ideas events with 500+ in attendance might be. Cruises with 500+ in attendance may be too but not Sydney Ferries as it is considered public transport. We encourage any cruise companies affected to contact us if they are still doing cruises for Vivid (assuming parts of the event is held during the pandemic). The event is planned to conclude on the 13th of June. As you can tell, this is in peak influenza season and hundreds of thousands of people will feature on the Vivid Light Walk nightly particularly on (long) weekends and Friday nights so there is a chance you may catch a virus with similar symptoms to CO-VID19. Be extra cautious if the event is still on during the pandemic and you decide to attend.
Last week, we contacted Vivid Sydney about how the virus would affect the event & when the media launch would be. We have received no response so far. However, the media launch for the event is due next Tuesday (though this has not been confirmed by us). There is a chance the media launch may be postponed until medical advice suggests the event may be held.
There is also a slight possibility Vivid Sydney 2020 could be postponed depending on future medical advice.
If Vivid Sydney 2020 is cancelled, it will be the 1st flagship Sydney Spectacular to be cancelled since October 2001 when the Centenary Of Federation Navy Fleet Review (which was to feature the Battle Of Australia fireworks/light show) was cancelled due to the September 11 attacks less than a month earlier in New York City, USA.
At this stage, Vivid Sydney is still on.
The next non-flagship Sydney Spectacular is Earth Hour however that does not fit the requirements of the advice above so that can go ahead. In fact, you can be part of it anywhere in the world on 28 March for 1 hour between 8:30pm & 9:30pm. Just make sure you are with less than 500 people at that time or at least, moving around (not in the same spot, obviously).
Sydney Spectaculars will be placing extra emphasis on Earth Hour this year given the threat global warming is placing on the Sydney Spectaculars long-term.
Handa Opera On Sydney Harbour: La Traviata
The day before Earth Hour, Handa Opera On Sydney Harbour: La Traviata, a nightly performance on Sydney Harbour complete with fireworks, begins. It runs until April 26.
Opera Australia, on their website, said:
We are currently working out what this means for us. We will have an update on the morning of Monday 16 March.
Other Sydney Spectaculars
All other Sydney Spectaculars after Vivid Sydney are too far in the future right now to be concerned about. However, stay tuned to this live blog.