Sydney restricts New Year's Eve fireworks to limit spread of COVID-19

SYDNEY (Reuters) - New Year's Eve fireworks over Sydney Harbour will go ahead this year but will be shortened to just a few minutes and the city precinct will be restricted to those with restaurant, cafe and hotel bookings in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Prime harbourside spots, normally coveted by thousands of revellers to watch the traditional 12-minute pyrotechnic display, will be set aside for health workers who have been treating COVID-19 patients and firefighters.

Although Australia has for weeks recorded just daily single digit new cases of COVID-19, New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said crowd numbers will be limited for the event in areas that typically draw thousands of viewers.

“New Year’s Eve celebrations will be a symbol of hope and optimism for next year," Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

"But unless you have a booking in a restaurant or cafe, please do not expect to go."

Those without a booking will be unable to gain access into the city, Berejiklian said.

Australia has recorded just over 27,600 novel coronavirus infections and 907 deaths, far fewer than many other developed countries.

Victoria state - the epicentre of Australia's COVID-19 outbreak - said it has now gone 10 days with detecting any infections.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Michael Perry)

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