Sydney Harbour is set for a second subdued New Year’s Eve as the pandemic keeps revellers away in droves but some will not let anything stop them having fun.

Where once a million spectators would gather around the water’s edge to see the city’s world-famous fireworks display, this year’s celebrations are conspicuously low-key.

Those who accepted the advice they were far safer from Covid-19 outdoors than indoors have been rewarded with light queues and prime viewing positions for the show. 

Many of those taking up the best spots in the afternoon had come from interstate – particularly Melbourne – as Sydneysiders made the decision to stay closer to home. 

Two years ago, excited tourists were queuing at Mrs Macquarie’s Point by 7am on December 30 – more than 40 hours before the first fireworks were due to be launched.

It was a second subdued New Year's Even on Sydney Harbour as the pandemic kept usually boisterous revellers away in droves. Friends (L-R) Danni Moore, 29, Tara Delaney, 28, and Sarah Kimberlin, had flown up from Melbourne for the fireworks

It was a second subdued New Year's Even on Sydney Harbour as the pandemic kept usually boisterous revellers away in droves. Friends (L-R) Danni Moore, 29, Tara Delaney, 28, and Sarah Kimberlin, had flown up from Melbourne for the fireworks

It was a second subdued New Year’s Even on Sydney Harbour as the pandemic kept usually boisterous revellers away in droves. Friends (L-R) Danni Moore, 29, Tara Delaney, 28, and Sarah Kimberlin, had flown up from Melbourne for the fireworks

Where once a million spectators would gather around the water's edge to see the city's world-famous fireworks display, this year's celebrations were low-key. Husband and wife Diana Mosquera, 32, and Omar Campos, 33, enjoyed getting out of their Sydney home

Where once a million spectators would gather around the water's edge to see the city's world-famous fireworks display, this year's celebrations were low-key. Husband and wife Diana Mosquera, 32, and Omar Campos, 33, enjoyed getting out of their Sydney home

Where once a million spectators would gather around the water’s edge to see the city’s world-famous fireworks display, this year’s celebrations were low-key. Husband and wife Diana Mosquera, 32, and Omar Campos, 33, enjoyed getting out of their Sydney home

Those who accepted the advice they were far safer from Covid-19 outdoors than indoors were rewarded with prime viewing positions and light queues. Mrs Macquarie's Point is pictured

Those who accepted the advice they were far safer from Covid-19 outdoors than indoors were rewarded with prime viewing positions and light queues. Mrs Macquarie's Point is pictured

Those who accepted the advice they were far safer from Covid-19 outdoors than indoors were rewarded with prime viewing positions and light queues. Mrs Macquarie’s Point is pictured

Hundreds of people ran through the Botanic Gardens the moment the gates opened to secure the best viewing spots.

This year those wishing to secure the perfect place mostly avoided long queues and any great rush to the headland. 

The Adametz family from Point Cook, about 30km south-west of Melbourne, had driven up from the Victorian capital just to experience a Sydney New Year’s Eve.

Mother Lisa, 39, arrived at the Domain at 9am with husband Andrew, 39, and their children Joseph, 13 and Hannah, 11, two hours before the gates opened to get into Mrs Macquarie’s Point.

They could have got there hours later and not missed out on a spectacular view. 

The family had paid $150 each – including for the children – for ‘Harbour View Gold’ tickets which allowed them access to one of the fireworks’ best vantage points.

‘The last two years of lockdowns have been horrendous,’ Ms Adametz said. ‘And everything’s been cancelled in Melbourne again.’

Many of those taking up the best spots had come from Victoria as most Sydneysiders made the decision to stay closer to home. The Adametz family from Point Cook, about 30km south-west of Melbourne, paid $150 each for tickets to Mrs Macquarie's Point

Many of those taking up the best spots had come from Victoria as most Sydneysiders made the decision to stay closer to home. The Adametz family from Point Cook, about 30km south-west of Melbourne, paid $150 each for tickets to Mrs Macquarie's Point

Many of those taking up the best spots had come from Victoria as most Sydneysiders made the decision to stay closer to home. The Adametz family from Point Cook, about 30km south-west of Melbourne, paid $150 each for tickets to Mrs Macquarie’s Point

Friends Mahek Pandya and Harjot Sharma, both 23 and from Melbourne, arrived at Mrs Macquarie's Point at 11am and were soon playing cards. 'We are very much excited just to see the fireworks,' Ms Pandya said. 'We'll spend 12 hours sitting here just for that half an hour'

Friends Mahek Pandya and Harjot Sharma, both 23 and from Melbourne, arrived at Mrs Macquarie's Point at 11am and were soon playing cards. 'We are very much excited just to see the fireworks,' Ms Pandya said. 'We'll spend 12 hours sitting here just for that half an hour'

Friends Mahek Pandya and Harjot Sharma, both 23 and from Melbourne, arrived at Mrs Macquarie’s Point at 11am and were soon playing cards. ‘We are very much excited just to see the fireworks,’ Ms Pandya said. ‘We’ll spend 12 hours sitting here just for that half an hour’

The City of Sydney had said anyone venturing out should be 'fully vaccinated, use QR codes' and 'wear a mask if you can't social distance'. Rules and advice varied from state to state. A woman is pictured on Friday outside a Covid testing clinic on Queensland's Gold Coast

The City of Sydney had said anyone venturing out should be 'fully vaccinated, use QR codes' and 'wear a mask if you can't social distance'. Rules and advice varied from state to state. A woman is pictured on Friday outside a Covid testing clinic on Queensland's Gold Coast

The City of Sydney had said anyone venturing out should be ‘fully vaccinated, use QR codes’ and ‘wear a mask if you can’t social distance’. Rules and advice varied from state to state. A woman is pictured on Friday outside a Covid testing clinic on Queensland’s Gold Coast 

Asked what the family would have done if they stayed at home, Ms Adametz said, ‘Nothing’. Asked why they had come to Sydney, she pointed to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House and said, ‘For this’.

‘We just basically said rather than everything being cancelled on us again we could come here and see the fireworks.’

‘We’ve had our fingers crossed for the last four months that this wouldn’t be cancelled. And now were here all the stress was worth it.’

The family had taken their place in shade as close as it was possible to get to the foreshore, having checked out the location on Thursday.

‘We got this beautiful spot,’ Ms Adametz said. ‘We couldn’t have wished for anything better.’

Friends Danni Moore, 29, Tara Delaney, 28, and Sarah Kimberlin, had also come up from Melbourne but had flown. They arrived at Mrs Macquarie’s Point about 11am.

Two years ago, excited tourists were queuing at Mrs Macquarie's Point by 7am on December 30 - more than 40 hours before the first fireworks were due to be launched. This year (pictured) was far more subdued

Two years ago, excited tourists were queuing at Mrs Macquarie's Point by 7am on December 30 - more than 40 hours before the first fireworks were due to be launched. This year (pictured) was far more subdued

Two years ago, excited tourists were queuing at Mrs Macquarie’s Point by 7am on December 30 – more than 40 hours before the first fireworks were due to be launched. This year (pictured) was far more subdued 

Hundreds of people ran through the Botanic Gardens the moment the gates opened to secure the best viewing spots. This year (pictured) those wishing to secure the perfect place avoided long queues and any great rush to the headland

Hundreds of people ran through the Botanic Gardens the moment the gates opened to secure the best viewing spots. This year (pictured) those wishing to secure the perfect place avoided long queues and any great rush to the headland

Hundreds of people ran through the Botanic Gardens the moment the gates opened to secure the best viewing spots. This year (pictured) those wishing to secure the perfect place avoided long queues and any great rush to the headland

The women had spread out picnic blankets and were nibbling on salami, cheese, strawberries, dips and crackers washed down with pinot gris.

‘We just wanted to get out of Melbourne to be honest,’ Ms Delaney said. ‘We’ve been in how many lockdowns now?

‘Melbourne’s a bit of ghost town at the moment, everyone’s getting out of there. Let’s hope they let us back in.’

Ms Moore was originally from Northern Ireland and moved to Melbourne in September. She had specifically wanted to see the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks.

‘It’s always the first thing we would see before we go out back home,’ she said.

UK-born Ms Kimberlin, who was on a work secondment in Melbourne, had no problem with the $150 ticket price for such an ‘unbelievable view’.

‘I can’t believe it’s so close,’ she said. ‘It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing; you wouldn’t do it every year.’

Husband and wife Diana Mosquera, 32, and Omar Campos, 33, are originally from Ecuador and Bolivia respectively and now live in north-west Sydney.

Victoria Chirkova and her husband Vlad Chirkov, both 29, moved to Australia from Belarus in eastern Europe six weeks ago. The couple had brought ham and cheese sandwiches for a picnic at Mrs Macquarie's Point. 'We haven't found the bar yet,' Mr Chirkov said

Victoria Chirkova and her husband Vlad Chirkov, both 29, moved to Australia from Belarus in eastern Europe six weeks ago. The couple had brought ham and cheese sandwiches for a picnic at Mrs Macquarie's Point. 'We haven't found the bar yet,' Mr Chirkov said

Victoria Chirkova and her husband Vlad Chirkov, both 29, moved to Australia from Belarus in eastern Europe six weeks ago. The couple had brought ham and cheese sandwiches for a picnic at Mrs Macquarie’s Point. ‘We haven’t found the bar yet,’ Mr Chirkov said

Restaurants, bars and harbour cruise operators reported tens of thousands of cancellations amid rising Omicron case numbers. Some of Sydney 's top restaurants were not even opening as staff shortages and Covid testing pressures forced owners to juggle crews between venues

Restaurants, bars and harbour cruise operators reported tens of thousands of cancellations amid rising Omicron case numbers. Some of Sydney 's top restaurants were not even opening as staff shortages and Covid testing pressures forced owners to juggle crews between venues

Restaurants, bars and harbour cruise operators reported tens of thousands of cancellations amid rising Omicron case numbers. Some of Sydney ‘s top restaurants were not even opening as staff shortages and Covid testing pressures forced owners to juggle crews between venues

This was the couple’s third time watching the fireworks from the harbour foreshore and this time they had arrived at 11.30am with four friends.

‘The view is amazing,’ Ms Mosquera said. ‘And it feels nice to hang out with friends. It feels like a little bit of freedom after this crazy year.’

Mr Campos was impressed by the afternoon view of the harbour but was looking forward to the midnight fireworks.

‘This show is spectacular,’ he said. ‘It’s unique. It’s special to be one of the first countries to greet the New Year.’

Friends Mahek Pandya and Harjot Sharma, both 23 and from Melbourne, arrived at Mrs Macquarie’s Point at 11am and were soon playing cards.

‘We are very much excited just to see the fireworks,’ Ms Pandya said. ‘We’ll spend 12 hours sitting here just for that half an hour.’

Asked what her family would have done if they stayed at home in Melbourne, Lisa Adametz said, 'Nothing'. Asked why they had come to Sydney, she pointed to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House and said, 'For this'. The Adametz family is pictured

Asked what her family would have done if they stayed at home in Melbourne, Lisa Adametz said, 'Nothing'. Asked why they had come to Sydney, she pointed to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House and said, 'For this'. The Adametz family is pictured

Asked what her family would have done if they stayed at home in Melbourne, Lisa Adametz said, ‘Nothing’. Asked why they had come to Sydney, she pointed to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House and said, ‘For this’. The Adametz family is pictured

Lisa Adametz, 39, arrived at the Domain at 9am with husband Andrew, 39, and their children Joseph, 13 and Hannah, 11, two hours before the gates opened to get into Mrs Macquarie's Point. Ms Adametz is pictured with Joseph and Hannah

Lisa Adametz, 39, arrived at the Domain at 9am with husband Andrew, 39, and their children Joseph, 13 and Hannah, 11, two hours before the gates opened to get into Mrs Macquarie's Point. Ms Adametz is pictured with Joseph and Hannah

Lisa Adametz, 39, arrived at the Domain at 9am with husband Andrew, 39, and their children Joseph, 13 and Hannah, 11, two hours before the gates opened to get into Mrs Macquarie’s Point. Ms Adametz is pictured with Joseph and Hannah 

While Ms Pandya had been to Sydney previously it was Mr Sharma’s first visit. In recent days he had also visited the Blue Mountains and Bondi Beach.

‘This is an awesome view,’ he said of the harbour vista. ‘I would say the $150 is worth it.’

Victoria Chirkova and her husband Vlad Chirkov, both 29, moved to Australia from Belarus in eastern Europe six weeks ago for Mr Chirkov’s work. They arrived at Mrs Macquarie’s Point at midday.

‘It’s usually about minus 20 degrees at home so there’s not so many options to do things outside,’ Mr Chirkov said. ‘It’s a bit more comfortable in this weather.’

‘I’ve heard from a lot of people in Australia this is where to see the fireworks on New Year’s Eve.’

The couple had brought ham and cheese sandwiches, strawberries and Pringles chips for their harbourside picnic. ‘We haven’t found the bar yet,’ Mr Chirkov said.

Even the best vantage points for Sydney's fireworks such as Mrs Macquarie's Point were easily accessed without long queues

Even the best vantage points for Sydney's fireworks such as Mrs Macquarie's Point were easily accessed without long queues

Even the best vantage points for Sydney’s fireworks such as Mrs Macquarie’s Point were easily accessed without long queues

Elsewhere, restaurants, bars and harbour cruise operators reported tens of thousands of cancellations amid rising Omicron case numbers. 

Some of Sydney‘s top restaurants were not even opening as staff shortages and Covid testing pressures forced owners to juggle crews between venues. 

Restaurateur Matt Moran told Daily Mail Australia that Chiswick, the favoured haunt of celebrities, was not opening on December 31 for the first time in its history.

Captain Cook Cruises, Sydney’s biggest operator, had only two cruise boats instead of 30 on the harbour and admitted hopes for a bumper New Year’s Eve ‘just toppled off a cliff’.

‘The 11,000 case numbers today might have helped (fuel cancellations), but it’s like Sydney is locking itself down,’ Captain Cook Cruises Sydney General Manager Nick Lester told Daily Mail Australia.

‘I get it. We haven’t seen case numbers like this in Australia and they are expected to go up. I’d crawl up in a ball in the corner too.

Restaurants like North Bondi Fish (above) opened on New Year's Eve and January 1 but Solotel, one of Sydney's biggest hospitality groups, struggled with staff shortages

Restaurants like North Bondi Fish (above) opened on New Year's Eve and January 1 but Solotel, one of Sydney's biggest hospitality groups, struggled with staff shortages

Restaurants like North Bondi Fish (above) opened on New Year’s Eve and January 1 but Solotel, one of Sydney’s biggest hospitality groups, struggled with staff shortages

‘We had a decent December and then Omicron started to have legs.

‘The timing couldn’t be worse. New Year’s Eve is when businesses can pay for next year’s infrastructure because (Sydney) is an international drawcard.

‘It’s a disaster.’ 

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet had pleaded with Sydneysiders to go out and party at hotels, restaurants and bars to boost the Covid-hit economy.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said earlier this month that Sydney businesses ‘have really struggled to keep afloat…  they need all the support we can give them. Book into a restaurant or bar to start your evening… make a night of it’.

The Solotel Group, which owns North Bondi Fish and Chiswick, kept the iconic New Year’s Eve dining spots Aria and Opera Bar open, but Aria will be closed on January 1.

It has been forced to keep venues closed because of testing delays, although Matt Moran said the group had the foresight to spend $10,000 on 1,200 rapid antigen tests.

Captain Cook Cruises (above), the city's biggest cruise operator has only two boats out on New Year's Eve, down from 30 two years ago and has had 20-30 per cent cancellations

Captain Cook Cruises (above), the city's biggest cruise operator has only two boats out on New Year's Eve, down from 30 two years ago and has had 20-30 per cent cancellations

Captain Cook Cruises (above), the city’s biggest cruise operator has only two boats out on New Year’s Eve, down from 30 two years ago and has had 20-30 per cent cancellations

Mr Moran said all staff were tested on arrival and only allowed in if negative. It was a daily juggle to see if enough had tested positive to staff each respective venue. 

‘Our problem is we have a very bad shortage of staff. We had a lot of venues closed over Christmas, but we were short staffed before this,’ he said.

‘What we do need is the government to allow skilled workers back into the country. 

‘(If not) there’s not going to be a hospitality industry.’

Nick Lester said the cruise ship industry on Sydney harbour was down by 85-90 per cent on pre-Covid business in 2019 when his company had 30 boats out on the night.

The two still sailing on Friday evening were a 65m cruise boat serving a six course $1,300 degustation menu and a $300-a-head BYO picnic cruise.

NSW Premier's mixed message about mask mandates and QR codes had sapped consumer confidence, causing people to cancel bookings and stay home on December 31

NSW Premier's mixed message about mask mandates and QR codes had sapped consumer confidence, causing people to cancel bookings and stay home on December 31

NSW Premier’s mixed message about mask mandates and QR codes had sapped consumer confidence, causing people to cancel bookings and stay home on December 31

‘We’ve had 20-30 per cent cancellations, but if case numbers… could be, say, 50,000, what about Australia Day? That’s a lot of business for people operating around the harbour.’

Five of six ticketed fireworks vantage points were sold out.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge will be brought to life with 6,000 fireworks cues across 178 firing locations.

Ms Moore said that Sydney deserved a party, and the city’s New Year’s Eve spectacle would help support local businesses and the tourism industry as they began to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

‘No one does New Year’s Eve quite like Sydney,’ she said. ‘Our city knows how to put on a show that gets the world talking. 

‘Following the challenges we’ve faced over the last two years Sydney will once again shine, marking the beginning of what we hope will be a wonderful 2022 – for us, and for the rest of the world.’

Lengthy testing queues, delays with results and a run on rapid antigen tests have kept people from being able to see loved ones and friends during the festive season

Lengthy testing queues, delays with results and a run on rapid antigen tests have kept people from being able to see loved ones and friends during the festive season

Lengthy testing queues, delays with results and a run on rapid antigen tests have kept people from being able to see loved ones and friends during the festive season

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