The Australia Day fireworks display continues as usual this year, but port activities on the day, including the regular ferrython, have been suspended to ensure the safety of the COVID holiday.
While activities such as a tall ship race and harbor boat parade will not take place, « Invasion Day » protesters have insisted that their gatherings continue despite a 500-person cap.
An Australia Day concert in the forecourt of the Opera House starts at 7.30pm with a reduced capacity crowd, followed by fireworks at 9pm.
The concert will include performances by Delta Goodrem and Casey Donovan and will be dedicated to Frontline staff who will be offered initial dibs on tickets as they become available.
Andrew Parker, chairman of NSW’s Australia Day Council, urged people across the state to stay on-site and watch the fireworks from the comfort of their living rooms.
« Sydney Harbor’s traditional and iconic daily program will not take place this year. These include the Ferrython, Tall Ship Race, Harbor Parade, Tug and Yacht Ballet, » said Parker.
Daytime activities have been canceled based on advice from NSW Health, but fireworks will be held so people can still celebrate TV Day.
Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres urged Australia Day protesters to schedule an « invasion day » rally at the Domain at 9am to comply with regulations and follow ministers’ health instructions, which limit the protests to 500 people.
“We encourage people to celebrate Australia Day the COVID safe way. We always recognize the opportunity for Australia to be a nation that celebrates free speech, but we ask that you obey public health regulations and the people to respect celebrating a fantastic nation, « he said.
« This is an unusual year in 2021 … please consider your safety, the safety of your family, and the safety of the community.
« Don’t do anything stupid, don’t do anything that violates these public health rules. They are in place to protect you and the community. »
But his warning didn’t stop rally organizer Elizabeth Jarrett from the Gumbaynggirr, Bundjalung and Dunghutti areas of northern New South Wales, who said they would not stop their protest given the restrictions.
« Unlike COVID, the colonial racism virus that came to these countries in 1788 cannot be defeated by self-isolation or quarantine. We must come together and fight back, » she said.
« During the pandemic, our people are still being locked up and killed and our children are being taken more and more frequently. We won’t stop until our sovereignty is recognized and we see justice. »
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