Tens of thousands of revellers are still expected to flood Melbourne for New Year’s Eve celebrations, despite record COVID-19 infections and sweltering heat.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said it was undeniable celebrations have taken a hit from the pandemic – normally hundreds of thousands of people flock to the city and an entertainment drawcard has been cancelled.
However, she assured those who have tickets to four event zones in the city, open to the double-vaccinated only, there was still plenty to enjoy.
“Within the celebration zones, there is family friendly entertainment, more than 115 artists will be dazzling and delighting the crowds, there is a 9.30pm fireworks show, particularly for families and children,” she told reporters.
Streets will be closed for outdoor dining, families can bring a picnic and there will be alcohol-free zones.
“Post the 9.30pm show, we move more into glitter balls, DJs and dancing as people look forward to heralding the end of 2021 with a midnight firework show across those four celebration zones,” she said.
However, the pandemic’s ongoing impact on freight, logistics and workplaces’ ability to train staff also means the City of Melbourne has cancelled its drone swarm at Docklands as part of its New Year’s Eve celebrations.
It is hoping the drone event provider, Celestial, can instead deliver the spectacle in January.
The mercury is set to soar to 38C in Melbourne on Friday, only dipping to 23C overnight before climbing to 36C on New Year’s Day.
Authorities are encouraging people to look out for one another amid the heat and partying.
Victoria Police will be patrolling for anti-social behaviour and firefighters are urging people to reconsider using illegal fireworks and be careful with barbecues.
Dog owners are reminded to make sure their properties are safe and secure to prevent pets from escaping on New Year’s Eve.
The Lost Dogs Home spokeswoman Suzana Talevski said 62 pets arrived at the shelter on January 1 after last year’s celebrations.
”It is a mammoth effort by our staff to reunite all these animals with their owners, and it is something that can be prevented by taking action now by making sure pets are well taken care of during festivities,” she said in a statement.