'Ghost town': Deserted Sydney set to celebrate the New Year without the crowds
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'Ghost town': Deserted Sydney set to celebrate the New Year without the crowds

By Laura Chung

Each year Circular Quay is bustling with thousands of people ready to see in the New Year with a bang. This year, could not be more different.

Fences were erected around the iconic site, with entry into the area only open to the 300 people who have been granted Green Zone permits at 5pm.

Reno and Andrea Costi with their children Christina and Tasi will dine inside the Green Zone at Circular Quay.

Reno and Andrea Costi with their children Christina and Tasi will dine inside the Green Zone at Circular Quay.Credit:Wolter Peeters,

Unlike previous years, there was just one fireworks display scheduled to ring in 2021 – a seven-minute affair at midnight, which Premier Gladys Berejiklian has repeatedly urged people to watch from their homes.

A pass system kept numbers to a minimum at some of the city's best vantage points

The Costi family usually sees in the New Year by walking around the harbour and watching the fireworks.

All of the Sydney Harbour foreshore has been locked down to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

All of the Sydney Harbour foreshore has been locked down to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Credit:Wolter Peeters

But this year they will celebrate at a restaurant at the deserted harbour. They made their booking a month ago and, despite the wet weather and a pandemic, they want to see in the New Year together.

A sign displaying COVID-19 messaging in Tingira Memorial Park, which has been closed as a precaution against coronavirus, at Rose Bay in Sydney.

A sign displaying COVID-19 messaging in Tingira Memorial Park, which has been closed as a precaution against coronavirus, at Rose Bay in Sydney. Credit:Steven Saphore

“It’s a bit of a ghost town in a way, “ daughter Christina said of the empty harbour.“It feels strange not to have those crowds,” Mrs Costi said.

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Ezekiel and Kristal Dioneda will dine inside the Green Zone at Circular Quay on New Years Eve.

Ezekiel and Kristal Dioneda will dine inside the Green Zone at Circular Quay on New Years Eve.Credit: Wolter Peeters

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Ezekiel and Kristal Dioneda have been in Australia for two years and spent last year at the crowded Westfield Tower watching the fireworks.

This year, after Googling the best places to watch the fireworks, they decided a front-row seat by the harbour was the way to go.

“It’s pretty empty, you don’t usually see this place with so few people,” Mr Dioneda said.

“When we arrived in Australia, the bushfires were terrible. We were looking forward to enjoying this new year.” Mrs Dioneda added that they were a bit nervous given the pandemic and had opted to wear face masks.

Revellers were greeted at entry points with offers of face masks and asked by police or event organisers to show their permits. The area around the Opera House stands empty, save for the police and event organisers walking through the area.

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