City of Newcastle will not proceed with its annual New Year’s Eve fireworks and concert event at Newcastle Foreshore due to the ongoing risks associated with mass gatherings and COVID-19.
The event attracted an estimated 30,000 people to the Foreshore last year.
The City has made the difficult decision in the interest of the community’s safety and will now focus on planning for smaller alternative celebrations.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said while a major event on the Foreshore will not go ahead, the City is investigating a once off different New Year’s celebration with a series of smaller events throughout the city, pending any public health measures in place in late December.
“The decision to not go ahead with this year’s fireworks and concert event is a sad one to make, but it has been made with our community’s safety in mind,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.
“As we have seen both in Australia and overseas, the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to worsen quickly, so we naturally have concerns around the delivery of an event that attracts between thirty and forty thousand people into the Foreshore.
“Our New Year’s Eve fireworks event is one of the City’s most vibrant and exciting occasions with activities and entertainment for the whole family.
“Through liaison with key stakeholders including NSW Police, the City has determined that the transport of thousands of people into and out of the Foreshore precinct would almost certainly lead to pinch points constituting a mass gathering where social distancing is impossible to maintain.
“We look forward to announcing a different way to come together as a community and welcome 2021 with a variety of activations throughout the city and suburbs.
“This revised program will allow us to plan safer opportunities for the community to celebrate together with more space and smaller crowd numbers.”
Newcastle City Police District Commander, Detective Superintendent Wayne Humphrey APM says the risk of large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic remains of a high concern.
“New South Wales Police will respond to whatever decision the council makes regarding the event.
“However, the dangers posed by moving tens of thousands of people into and out of the Foreshore precinct for the 9pm fireworks display remains quite high in the current pandemic conditions.”
City of Newcastle encourages Novocastrians to enjoy New Year’s Eve in a COVID Safe way and will continue to work with NSW Police to prioritise public safety.
With a high number of COVID safe businesses operating through the city, this cancellation will provide the capacity in the transport network for people to access hospitality venues safely and encourages celebrations in smaller controlled groups over the evening.
“We hope people come together to enjoy themselves at restaurants and bars as well as at smaller home gatherings on New Year’s Eve,” Cr Nelmes said.
The City will release more information about the 2021 New Year’s events soon.