NSW encouraged to celebrate in a COVID-safe way this Australia Day

The NSW Police Force is reminding the community to be celebrate safely this Australia Day, as the state prepares to mark a national holiday that will look very different this year.

With large gatherings limited across the state due to COVID-19, people are being encouraged to watch the live broadcast on TV from their home, have small COVID-safe gatherings with family and friends or book a restaurant in their local area to help support businesses.

However, a highly visible and mobile police operation will be in place on Tuesday 26 January 2021 for those who choose to reflect and celebrate outdoors. General duties officers, assisted by specialist police, will be deployed across the state to ensure a safe and secure environment for everyone.

Operation Commander, Assistant Commissioner Michael Willing APM, said with a smaller number of events and careful crowd management plans, it’s more important than ever to be patient and plan ahead.

“Australia Day 2021 is a day to reflect, respect and celebrate the Australian spirit, so we ask the community to be patient and respect each other and any restrictions in place,” Assistant Commissioner Willing said.

“People may be marking the day differently, but as with any major event, police will still be out and about across the state focusing on public safety, alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour.

“Police aren’t here to disrupt any plans, but we do have the power to ensure that the community is adhering to the current public health orders, including restrictions on gathering and movement and the wearing of mandatory face coverings in certain settings.”

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott MP, said all agencies are working together to make sure this year’s Australia Day is safe and fun for everyone across NSW.

“The past 12 months have been a trying time and we know that many have done it tough, first with bushfires and then living through this global pandemic,” Minister Elliott said.

“Australia Day is a time to celebrate and reflect upon the Australian spirit, and our resilience and mateship shown during times of hardship.

“Let’s remember that, particularly this year, and ensure we all have an enjoyable weekend celebrating everything that is great about being Australian.”

Marine Area Commander, Acting Superintendent Joe McNulty, said the police operation will extend onto the state’s waterways, so people celebrating on the water should anticipate a heavy police presence.

“We expect significant maritime traffic on the harbour and waterways across the state, so we remind skippers of their responsibilities in complying with the maritime laws and to have all the required safety equipment – most importantly, lifejackets – on board the vessel,” said Acting Superintendent McNulty.

“We will also be conducting drug and alcohol testing on the water, so remember, the same rule applies to as if you were driving a vehicle, it is a 0.05 alcohol limit.

“Drinking alcohol or taking drugs while out on the water can end in tragedy, so look after your friends and family and act responsibly.”

For anyone heading out on the water, check the weather conditions prior to your departure, exclusion zones and movement times apply. Please visit www.maritime.nsw.gov.au/ for further details.

Police are also urging the community to monitor weather reports and follow health and safety advice, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting hot weather to continue into Australia Day.

There will be a complete closure of Circular Quay to the general public by 6:00pm on Australia Day, and only ticket holders or those with a restaurant or venue booking, venue workers or residents will be permitted access. Anyone without a permit or confirmed booking at a venue is encouraged to celebrate at home.

There will be also road closures within the Sydney CBD, so members of the public are asked to check signs carefully before parking as vehicles parked in marked clearways will be towed and a towing fee applies.

You can plan your trip via www.livetraffic.com, and allow extra time and expect delays.

For details about what’s happening in your area and further event-related information, visit the official Australia Day website: http://www.australiaday.com.au/.

Please check the NSW Health website for the Public Health restrictions that apply to your area, or the area you plan on visiting.