COVID-19 LIVE BLOG: SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE PYLON PROJECTIONS FOR NYE UNDER A CLOUD

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 (NYE)’ 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
  • Sydney Town Hall lit red for ANZAC Day 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions
  • DIY Vivid Australia unofficially replaces Vivid Sydney from May 22 to June 5.
  • On the 13th & 14th of August, the New South Wales Tourism Minister responded to media queries about whether Sydney NYE2020 should go ahead due to COVID-19. He responded that he wants it to go ahead in some form but it will not be “traditional”.
  • On the 16th of August, Lord Mayor Clover Moore tells The Sydney Morning Herald that cancellation of Sydney NYE2020 is “a real possibility”.
  • In the 18th of August, Vivid Sydney was announced to be held in August 2021 “in a COVID-safe manner”.
  • On the 19th of August, the Sydney NYE website was updated to include a ‘COVID-19 update’.
  • At the 24th of August City Of Sydney Council Meeting, Councillor Christine Forster put forward 3 questions on notice regarding Sydney NYE2020. The response from the City Of Sydney’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to all 3 questions was “City staff have been meeting with the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Events Coordination Group. The matter has not been resolved to date”
  • On the 2nd of September, debate about the holding of Sydney NYE2020 brew within the NSW Government, who are not the event’s official organisers. However, it has lead to the City Of Sydney (the event’s official organiser)’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, sought and urgent meeting with the NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian.
  • On the 17th of September, the NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, asks the public to assume the ‘maximum 20 people’ order will be still in place for house New Year’s Eve parties.
  • On the 18th of September, the City Of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore says she is “opposed” to fireworks for Sydney NYE2020 but the NSW Treasurer says the  NSW Government is “very, very keen” for fireworks
  • On the 24th of September, the City Of Sydney handed over the Sydney NYE2020 edition to the NSW Government.
  • On the 13th of October, the NSW Government announced that from October 16 up to 500 people can attend outdoor seated music performances & rehearsals for venues complying with the 4 square metre rule, making a Sydney NYE concert more likely to be held.
  • On the 14th of October, it was announced Vivid Sydney will be held between the 6th & 28th of August 2021 & that Vivid Light expressions of interest are now open. The Vivid Light expressions of interest close on Monday 23rd of November 2020.
  • On the 21st of October, Technical Direction Company told InAVate that “As yet, we haven’t been informed if that (Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon NYE Projections) is going ahead”

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

21ST OF OCTOBER 2020:

SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE PYLON PROJECTIONS FOR NYE UNDER A CLOUD

Speaking to InAVate, Geraldine Shine, Brand Manager, Technical Direction Company said:

Sydney NYE celebrations will go ahead.

It has not been made public as to what form this will take in comparison with previous years.

Technical Direction Company won a tender to provide projections on the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons for the next 4 years for Sydney NYE.

As yet, we haven’t been informed if that is going ahead.

We are always ready to come up with new ways to approach entertainment but everything seems to be last minute due to the uncertainty around COVID-19.

Sydney Spectaculars sought comment from the NSW Government but they declined to comment.

Sydney Spectaculars believe Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon projections should not be used on the night to prevent crowds gathering at the sight of the colourful all-night long (8pm to 2am) Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon projections.

14TH OF OCTOBER 2020:

VIVID SYDNEY 2021 DATES RELEASED, WORK BEGINS ON VIVID LIGHT

The largest celebration of light, music and ideas in the Southern Hemisphere –Vivid Sydney – will return from 6 to 28 August 2021.

Kicking off planning for next year’s event, expressions of interest for the Vivid Light program are now open with artists and creatives invited to take part.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the event would support the recovery of the visitor economy and creative arts sector in a COVID-safe way.

“It’s exciting to get planning underway for Vivid Sydney 2021 so we can deliver another world-class showcase of creativity and innovation here in the Harbour City,” Minister Ayres said.

“We hope that Sydneysiders, residents of NSW and visitors from around the country will start planning now and book accommodation, tours and attractions to make the most of their Vivid Sydney 2021 experience”

“Vivid Sydney also supports the NSW Government’s new 24-Hour Economy Strategy which will help Sydney realise its potential as a thriving global city, and create more employment opportunities in the arts, entertainment, cultural and hospitality sectors.”

Vivid Sydney was established in 2009 and is owned, managed and produced by Destination NSW.

The Vivid Sydney Light Walk features dozens of light installations and large-scale projections to create a magical, interactive gallery around Sydney Harbour.

Artists, designers, creatives, architects and engineers can submit their ideas, designs and concepts to be involved in the 2021 Light Walk by Monday 23 November.

“I can’t wait to see the creativity that comes forth – we are all hungry for inspiration, whimsy, innovation and fun, which is exactly what Vivid Sydney is all about,” Minister Ayres said.

Further details about Vivid Sydney 2021 will be shared in due course. To complete an expression of interest go to www.vividsydney.com

Media Release: Vivid Sydney

13TH OF OCTOBER 2020:

RELAXED RESTRICTIONS FOR MUSIC PERFORMANCES

The new restrictions will allow hospitality venues with outdoor areas and outdoor seated music performances to increase capacity in a COVID Safe way.

The eased restrictions will start from Friday 16 October 2020. Under the new rules:

  • hospitality venues can allow one person for every two square metres for outdoor areas. This previously was one person per four square metres
  • up to 500 people can attend outdoor seated music performances and rehearsals for venues complying with the four square metre rule. This previously was a total of 20 people.

All businesses and venues must use electronic methods such as QR codes to record and keep contact details.

Restaurants, cafes and bars that have outdoor seating sections will be able to increase capacity in a COVID Safe way with the relaxed 2 square metre rule.

Venues and organisers of outdoor music performances and rehearsals must have a COVID Safety Plan in place.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state is focused on keeping COVID-19 under control & ensuring our economy keeps going.

“Our aim is to provide as many opportunities as we can for businesses and organisations to succeed. For that strategy to be successful, we need everyone to follow their COVID-19 Safety Plan,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Learn more and get ready for a COVID Safe summer.

Media Release: NSW Government

SYDNEY NYE CONCERT MORE LIKELY TO BE HELD

With this news, a Sydney NYE concert held by the ABC, as in recent years, is more likely to be held, though with more limited capacity.

Adding to our speculation, the Sydney Opera House announced a day later that they will re-open on the 29th of October. Their restaurants reopened on 10 September.

24TH OF SEPTEMBER 2020:

CITY OF SYDNEY HANDS OVER SYDNEY NYE TO THE NSW GOVERNMENT

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, a smaller version of Sydney New Year’s Eve (NYE) will still go ahead after the City Of Sydney struck an agreement handing responsibility for the event to the New South Wales (NSW) Government.

City Of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, agreed to the government’s proposal for it to take “temporary custodianship” of this year’s edition during a meeting with NSW Government Tourism Minister, Stuart Ayres, this afternoon. The Lord Mayor said in a statement:

He has assured me that the Government will take full responsibility for the preparation and funding for the fireworks & crowd management, safety, traffic and transport & is prepared to cancel the event if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases. There will be restrictions on travel & public gathering which will necessitate police presence on transport routes, around the city & on foreshore areas with fines for non-social distancing compliance.We encourage people to watch this year’s display from the COVID-safety of their homes

The NSW Government Tourism Minister said to The Sydney Morning Herald that he was confident some in-person events could accompany the fireworks display. He said Transport For NSW & NSW Police were willing to run their regular NYE operations and it would be likely that events could occur in restaurants & venues in the central business district with restrictions on people in public places, saying to the newspaper:

We know we will be actively discouraging people from coming to the city who are not planning to be here for ticketed or specialised events but we will work with Health & we will work with the Council to make sure we manage that & provide it as a COVID-safe event

City Of Sydney Councillor, Linda Scott, also wrote an opinion piece for the newspaper titled ‘Don’t turn NYE fireworks into a private event, Premier’ earlier that day at 3:45pm.

19TH OF SEPTEMBER 2020:

CITY OF SYDNEY LORD MAYOR, CLOVER MOORE SAYS SHE IS “OPPOSED” TO FIREWORKS FOR SYDNEY NYE2020 BUT NSW TREASURER SAYS NSW GOVERNMENT “VERY, VERY KEEN” FOR FIREWORKS

According to News Corporation Australia Newswire, City Of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said she was concerned 1 million people around Sydney Harbour would pose a major health risk given the unpredictability of COVID-19.

The Lord Mayor said Sydneysiders should be watching the display in the comfort of their own home or at their local pub or club, where it is easier to maintain COVID-19 safe practices.

Ms Moore said the City had considered the difficulties of inviting 1 million people into the city because they’d “likely have to travel on public transport to get here”.

She said she has suggested creating a compilation of the previous 16 years’ (since she has been Lord Mayor) fireworks displays & bringing them to the comfort of people’s homes.

The historic vision would then be coupled with a presentation from Australian artists & performers.

Ms Moore argued that if there were fireworks on the Sydney Harbour Bridge people would still turn up despite being told to stay home. She may be right – as we think it could happen too – read our opinion piece on this issue for more information.

She also said:

It would be very difficult to stop (the spread). We hope that we have outdoor dining & even indoor dining, slightly more liberal than what we have now, by New Year’s Eve.  I’m opposed to doing it (fireworks) because we couldn’t handle another lockdown in Sydney. If we have an event (like this) it could cause a super spread since everyone has come together. We cannot manage huge crowds. I don’t want that on New Year’s Eve.

However, New South Wales (NSW) Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, argued while it might be a difficult task, the NSW Government “does difficult well” and he accepted the Lord Mayor’s views & said the NSW Government faces a balancing act between acknowledging the COVID-19 concerns and opening the Sydney CBD economy.

He also said:

This pandemic is difficult and we’re beating the virus. I want to continue to work with the Lord Mayor. We believe we should have the fireworks not just for the economic benefit, but for the hope that it gives our citizens. Our city is open for business and that’s not just a beacon of hope for people in our city, but globally. I can tell you the government is very, very keen to have the fireworks. We want to demonstrate to the world that we are open.

9 News also reported that the Lord Mayor also wanted a dance performance at Midnight and that the NSW Government, if it were to hold it themselves would cancel the 9pm Family Fireworks and hold a shortened Midnight Fireworks. However, all vantage points would have to be controlled, free and ticketed.

18TH OF SEPTEMBER 2020:

NSW PREMIER ASKS PUBLIC TO ASSUME THE ‘MAXIMUM 20 PEOPLE’ ORDER WILL BE STILL IN PLACE FOR HOUSE NYE PARTIES

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian said the public should prepare for New Year’s Eve celebrations to be held under the existing social distancing restrictions. She said:

My expectation is that everybody plan ahead based on the existing health orders. We can’t give any commitment of guarantee beyond that. I would ask everybody to assume the current health orders will be in place. That’s the worst-case scenario.

2ND OF SEPTEMBER 2020:

URGENT SYDNEY NYE2020 MEETING SOUGHT AS DEBATE BREWS OVER EVENT’S HOLDING

Just after Midnight (how ironic), according to The Sydney Morning Herald, New South Wales (NSW) Deputy Premier John Barilaro believes the cancellation of Sydney’s famous New Year’s Eve celebrations is inevitable saying:

If the regions have to lose big tourism events like this (Tamworth Country Music Festival), then there is no option but to cancel the big drawcard events in Sydney and the most obvious is the New Year’s Eve fireworks

The Deputy Premier is from The Nationals, a political party representing regional and rural areas. It seems the Tamworth Country Music Festival, held in January each year, was cancelled recently sparking his comments today.

Though, a senior government source close to the New South Wales Police Minister David Elliott also told The Sydney Morning Herald that he was concerned about managing crowds in Sydney on New Year’s Eve, given it would be “impossible” to keep people away.

While the City Of Sydney is responsible for the fireworks, the source said NSW Police had already indicated that it would not be feasible to have thousands of people converging on the harbour.

While the Tamworth Country Music Festival has 40,000 annual visitors, according to the NSW Deputy Premier, Sydney Spectaculars believes Sydney NYE2020 would receive about or less than 250,000 visitors, which is 75% down the current attendance rate of 1 million. The decrease is due to the international travel ban (except for international students) as well as NSW & Federal COVID-19 restrictions.

The senior government source also said to The Herald:

I think what we will be told this year is to have small gatherings at home for Christmas and New Year
NSW Tourism Minister, Stuart Ayres, then went on radio station 2GB’s Drive With Jim Wilson at 3:12pm:
Later that day at around 6pm, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the City Of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, has sought an urgent meeting with the NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian to discuss Sydney NYE2020’s fate.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, when asked about the celebration, Ms Berejiklian said it would have to be approached differently, but she would like to see the event go ahead in a COVID-safe way. Big crowds were out of the question, and most people might be watching the fireworks from home, she said.

The Herald also reported sources with knowledge of a briefing on the fireworks event earlier this week said police, paramedics, transport agencies and council’s staff were of the view that the festivities could not safely go ahead.

The newspaper/website also reported that City Of Sydney Councillor Craig Chung said a decision should be made this week as preparations, including manufacturing fireworks and creating traffic management plans, took months. He said to The Herald:

My view is that Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks belong not just to the City of Sydney but to Sydney and Australia as a whole. It needs to be a joint decision we all make together

Councillor Chung also told The Herald decisions about Sydney Christmas & New Year’s Eve would likely inform what happened for Australia Day In Sydney in late January.

24TH OF AUGUST 2020:

Sydney NYE2020 Event Holding “Has Not Been Resolved To Date” Says City Of Sydney CEO

Today, a City Of Sydney Council Meeting was held where Councillor Christine Forster put forward 3 questions on notice regarding Sydney NYE2020. These questions were:

  1. What discussions have City staff had with the NSW Government regarding the 2020 New Year’s Eve celebrations in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic?

  2. What was the outcome of any discussions that have taken place?

  3. When will the City of Sydney make a final call as to whether celebrations, including any firework displays, will go ahead on New Year’s Eve?

The response received from the Chief Executive Officer was:

City staff have been meeting with the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Events Coordination Group. The matter has not been resolved to date.

19TH OF AUGUST 2020:

Sydney NYE Website Updated To Include A ‘COVID-19 Update’

The Sydney NYE website has been updated to include a ‘COVID-19 Update’. It does not reveal any new information:

Image: City Of Sydney

However, despite this website update in regards to the 2020 edition, the top of the website still contains the annual message after each edition (but, in this case, the 2019 edition):

You’re viewing the 2019 website. Sign up for our updates and be the first to know when we’re ready for 2020.

This could be implying they are not ready for the 2020 edition. Usually this message disappears in September in recent years. However, it could have been reworded as they are now, technically, showing a 2020 edition website.

18TH OF AUGUST 2020:

Vivid Sydney To Return In August 2021

Vivid Sydney will (hopefully) return in August 2021:

It will be held in a COVID-safe manner.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said Vivid Sydney was an important cultural, social and economic beacon for NSW.  He also said:

Major events will play a critical role in stimulating the visitor economy and NSW’s broader COVID-19 recovery strategy. We’re cautiously optimistic that with a slight delay to regular scheduling, Vivid Sydney will be able to proceed as the bright, dynamic event we all know and love in August next year. There’s no doubt that all future events will need to make adjustments to be COVID-safe in line with NSW Health advice and reflect the changes we are experiencing in
day-to-day life. Vivid Sydney has always celebrated and explored innovation and creativity, but more importantly brought joy to people who visit in person or who follow the media and social media coverage. We look forward to reigniting that excitement and passion within the artistic community and our supporters, and creating tangible opportunities for the tourism industry by driving visitors to Sydney and NSW in a safe way.

Further details about Vivid Sydney 2021 will be shared later in 2020.

Sydney Spectaculars have contacted Destination New South Wales as to how it will be held “in a COVID-safe manner”.

16TH OF AUGUST 2020:

Lord Mayor Clover Moore Says Sydney NYE2020 Cancellation “A Real Possibility”

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City Of Sydney was working with the New South Wales (NSW) State Government to assess the impact of COVID-19 on major events, including Sydney Christmas & Sydney NYE, both current Sydney Spectaculars. She also said:

These events are subject to the NSW Government’s public health orders, which are continuously amended to address the local impact of the pandemic. Ultimately, if NSW Health and police can’t be certain that the event can be held safely, it won’t go ahead. It would be incredibly sad if Sydney New Year’s Eve cannot go ahead, but that is a real possibility we’re facing. The community’s health and safety is paramount and it may not be responsible to encourage large crowds to our foreshore

The biggest risk to crowds would after the Midnight Fireworks when everyone is leaving at the same time (unlike arriving, when it is spread throughout the day). The event itself, between 7pm & Midnight, would be a risk with large crowds.

If cancelled, this would be the 1st time since 1988 that Sydney NYE has been cancelled. In 1988, the event was cancelled after a mass murder in The Rocks on NYE1986 after growing incidents of violence since the event’s inception on NYE1976. The event returned on NYE1989 with the introduction of the 9pm Family Fireworks. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was not used for NYE until NYE1990 & the Opera House has only been used for NYE fireworks since NYE2013 as part of their Decade Of Renewal. It also featured in the NYE1999/Millennium edition. The Midnight Fireworks went on a 10-year hiatus since NYE1986 returning on NYE1996 as a brief fireworks show on Sydney Tower.

13TH/14TH Of AUGUST 2020:

NEW SOUTH WALES TOURISM MINISTER WANTS SYDNEY NYE2020 TO GO AHEAD IN SOME FORM BUT IT WILL NOT BE “TRADITIONAL”

It is now looking extremely likely Sydney NYE 2020 will look different to any edition since the iconic Sydney NYE1999 – ‘Sydney’s Millennium’ edition.

Extra-ordinary crowd restrictions seem very likely right now with Sydney Spectaculars predicting less than half of the current attendance (1 million) would turn up due to the other half being international tourists who, as far as we are aware, cannot enter Australia until Midnight on NYE. So a maximum attendance of 500,000 is expected, which is similar to the attendance rates of the early 2000’s, which was shortly after when the event became world famous due to the Millennium. Taking into account the COVID-19 extra-ordinary crowd restrictions, it is very likely attendance would be at a maximum that is definitely way lower than 500,000 people.

However, Sydney Harbour is mostly surrounded by suburbia so people who live around Sydney Harbour could still maybe be the only people legally allowed to watch the show from thir house or on the Harbour if in Harbour-side local government areas they are allowed to use their water vessels on the night. Depending on how the show is developed, it may be shown on television domestically and via the Internet for the event’s international fan base.

Daily Mail Australia was told by a spokesman of the official event organiser, the City Of Sydney:

City of Sydney Council is working with the government to assess the impact of COVID-19 on all major events, including New Year’s Eve.

These events are subject to the NSW Government’s public health orders, which are continuously amended to address the local impact of the pandemic

Where events are deemed safe enough to occur, we will prepare and enact COVID safe plans and physical distancing guidelines to safeguard the health and safety of our community, staff and contractors

The City Of Sydney has worked with the New South Wales (NSW) State Government with the event’s management since the inaugural edition in 1976. Currently, since 2001, a regularly renewed 5-year Memorandum Of Understanding connects the NSW State Government with the event so ‘talks with the NSW State Government’ are not unusual.

The City Of Sydney’s response to Daily Mail Australia’s enquiries subsequently prompted media queries to Stuart Ayres, the New South Wales Tourism Minister:

He then appeared on Radio 2GB’s Ben Fordham Show at 6:53am AEST on Friday the 14th of August 2020:

Sydney Spectaculars was planning to write an opinion piece in July about how the City Of Sydney should approach Sydney NYE2020. We will try to publish this as soon as possible (It is still a draft).

22ND OF MAY 2020:

#DIY VIVID AUSTRALIA LIGHTS UP AS UNOFFICIAL VIVID SYDNEY REPLACEMENT

Vivid Sydney was supposed to begin today for 18 nights but Sydneysiders dislike their events being cancelled. They could not cope in 1987 when Sydney NYE was cancelled for 2 years & still could not when Vivid Sydney was cancelled for the 1st time ever this year due to COVID-19. A Sydneysider has started up a ‘DIY (Do It Yourself) Vivid Australia’ event:

Sydney’s Vivid Festival has been COVID-19 cancelled… or has it?!

Get your own festive lights out on your balcony, switch over your lounge room bulbs to COLOUR. Get your self isolation pad LIT for our own makeshift DIY Vivid Australia starting on Friday 22 May 2020! #DIYvivid

Shine some light in these dark times! Connect together, but from a distance.

First night livestream with tunes from Tassone at 7pm!

It is being hosted by DIY Rainbow, who ‘chalk DIY rainbows for equality’ and begins at 7pm each night in your Australian time zone.

If you are the organiser of DIY Vivid Australia, can you contact us or use our feedback form as a means of communication? As we study Sydney’s major events from an historical perspective, your insight would be great in such a major milestone in human history.

Their version finishes on the night of June 5.

It is not an official Vivid Sydney event.

24TH & 25TH OF APRIL 2020:

SYDNEY TOWN HALL LIT RED FOR ANZAC DAY 2020 DUE TO COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS

1ST OF APRIL 2020:

RICHARD WILKINS TESTS NEGATIVE!

Richard Wilkins, long-time television (co-)host of ‘Sydney NYE’ 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.
You can also download an Android version here.
These services would come in handy for potential international
visitors to Australia once the pandemic is over.

25TH OF MARCH 2020:

RICHARD WILKINS UPDATE

Richard Wilkins, long-time television (co-)host of ‘Sydney NYE’ from the 1996 edition to the 2005 edition, who tested positive for COVID-19 on the 15th of March, has given an update on his condition.
On his Instagram, he wrote:
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
We wish Richard & all people infected with COVID-19 to get well very soon.

24TH OF MARCH 2020:

NEW RESTRICTIONS & MORE VENUE CLOSURES FOR AUSTRALIAN EARTH HOUR EVENTS

The PM announces restrictions have been extended

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 offence

Mr 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 followed

The 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 Office

Australians 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
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.

20TH OF MARCH 2020:

DARLING HARBOUR’S SATURDAY NIGHT FIREWORKS HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED AS CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

From  their ‘Fireworks’ webpage:

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:

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

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 pag.contactusdarlingharbour@property.nsw.gov.au.

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 customerservice@opera.org.au. 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 NYE’. Vivid Sydney begun in 2009 while Sydney NYE 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 NYE cancellation of 1987 (due to a mass murder in The Rocks on NYE 1986)

RICHARD WILKINS TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19

Richard Wilkins, long-time television (co-)host of ‘Sydney New Year’s Eve’ from the 1996 edition to the 2005 edition has tested positive for COVID-19, after being in close contact with Rita Wilson, the wife of Tom Hanks.
9 News confirmed the network’s entertainment editor and Weekend TODAY host’s news to Australian Broadcasting Corporation News.
We wish Richard & all people infected with COVID-19 to get well very soon.

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

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.

Earth Hour

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.

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