NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks to go ahead “in one form or another” despite the coronavirus pandemic.
“I do want to offer people a glimmer of hope to say there’ll be something that evening; it won’t be what we normally do,” Ms Berejiklian told Sydney radio 2GB on Thursday.
“The vast majority of us will be at home celebrating with family and friends but we want to make sure there is some symbol of hope for the new year.”
The City of Sydney normally hosts the spectacular event but the council has expressed major hesitations about the cost of the multi-million-dollar display and holding the event during the pandemic.
Up to a million people usually crowd along the Sydney Harbour foreshore to watch the fireworks, which are also broadcast around the world.
The government was consulting police, transport and health authorities to see what was possible, Ms Berejiklian said.
Ms Berejiklian said the state government would help foot the bill for the fireworks to ensure the event goes ahead as planned.
“We’re keen to see them [the fireworks] go ahead in one form or another,” she told Nine Radio.
“It won’t be the same as every other year, the vast majority of us will be watching it from home.
“But we are keen to demonstrate to Australia and to the world that 2021 should be a year of hope, and what better way to bring in the New Year than fireworks above Sydney.”
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro had previously stated it would be too risky to stage event this year.
If the New Year’s Eve celebrations do go ahead, it is expected to be limited to a scaled back version of the midnight fireworks.
Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres conceded the majority of spectators would be watching from home and only people with tickets to specific events would be permitted into the harbour foreshore area.
“It’s not going to be open slather with everyone being able to come into the city,” he said.
“And we fundamentally believe people won’t travel into the city in the numbers they have done in the past.”
He flagged the possibility of free ticketed locations with capped spaces and restricted access to foreshore locations as options for controlling crowd numbers.
Mr Ayres said the state government was in discussions with the City of Sydney, local councils, NSW Health, NSW Police and Transport NSW to see how the event can be held safely.
“Yes, we’ve got a bit of management to do about how we manage and control the city,” he said.
“Police have already indicated they’ll be running their usual New Year’s Eve operation, we know that Transport is ready and geared up to be able to do this work.
“We will work with Health and we will work with Sydney Council to make sure we manage this and provide it as a COVID-safe event.”
The state government has left open the possibility the fireworks could be cancelled if there was a major outbreak of COVID-19 or a significant seeding event.