The NSW Police Force is encouraging the community to enjoy New Year’s Eve celebrations from home this year, as a high-visibility and mobile police operation is outlined today.
Operation New Year’s Eve 2020 will be in place on Thursday to ensure the safety of revellers at events or gatherings across NSW.
It comes as NSW Health continues to manage a COVID-19 outbreak on the Northern Beaches, with three new cases reported today and at least three to be included in tomorrow’s figures.
Residents of greater Sydney, including in Penrith, cannot have more than 10 visitors to their home at present, including on New Year’s Eve.
Operation New Year’s Eve 2020 Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing, said police will be focused on public safety, which includes enforcing Public Health Orders, as well as alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour.
“New Year’s Eve celebrations will look very different this year, so too will the police response; and we are urging the community to heed the advice and celebrate locally,” Assistant Commissioner Willing said.
“There will still be significant numbers of officers deployed for Operation New Year’s Eve, who will be focused on keeping everyone safe, whether celebrating at an event in the CBD, suburban Sydney or Regional NSW.
“Public places around Circular Quay, the Opera House, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and parts of the North Sydney Area, where you would normally have a vantage point of the fireworks, will be closed to everyone except New Year’s Eve pass holders.
“If you have a booking or confirmed plan in or around the city or harbour foreshore areas, review your plans and make sure that if you need a New Year’s Eve pass, you get one through Service NSW and have it with you on the night.
“If you don’t have a plan AND a pass, you will be directed to leave the area.”
Police have been working closely with the NSW Government, landowners and other stakeholders in the lead up to New Year’s Eve to ensure a COVID-safe evening for everyone.
With large numbers of people expected to celebrate in their local areas, Assistant Commissioner Willing re-affirmed that police will be available where they are needed.
“The community should be reassured that police have a significant, robust and flexible operation in place to ensure the safety of revellers throughout the night,” Assistant Commissioner Willing said.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the efforts of residents during this current outbreak are paying off.
“This hasn’t been an easy Christmas period, but our contact tracers have been able to get on top of this outbreak and the number of new cases remains low,” Mr Hazzard said.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said NSW Health has worked hard to make COVID-Safe celebrations possible but it is important that the community continues to follow COVID-Safe practices, stay at home if unwell and get tested, wear a mask and follow good hand hygiene and physical distancing.
“Everyone needs to continue to be alert to the ongoing risk of transmission and to keep practising physical distancing and good hand hygiene, and most importantly to get tested and isolate if they feel unwell,” Dr Chant said.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.