Australia took a subdued first step into 2022 with spectacular fireworks, COVID-reduced crowds and police across the nation “generally pleased” with revellers’ behaviour despite a number of arrests
NSW Police slapped the cuffs on 128 people state-wide, including 10 in Sydney’s CBD, while 45 move-on directions were issued.
Assistant Commissioner Peter Thurtell said the multi-unit operation had seen Sydney enter the new year safely.
“It was still disappointing to see some people being reckless and disregarding the rules, with police giving move-on directions and making arrests on multiple occasions,” he said.
“I would like to thank those members of the community who made their plans COVID-safe and celebrated the beginning of 2022 responsibly, in what we hope is a better year for everyone.”
Police in Western Australia made 79 arrests and have laid 268 charges. They issued 154 move-on notices.
In South Australia, police made 57 arrests state-wide, with 41 people reported for traffic offences.
They conducted nearly 1400 drug and alcohol tests, with 44 positive alcohol tests and 11 drug results.
No crush on the Harbour
There was space to spare in ticketed vantage points beside Sydney Harbour to watch the city’s internationally renowned New Year’s Eve fireworks, with many people opting to stay COVID-safe away from crowds.
While attendance numbers were well down on the million-plus of previous years the displays were not scaled back, with six tonnes of fireworks launched.
Despite the pandemic and sweltering heat through most of the day, tens of thousands still flocked to Melbourne’s festivities.
The midnight fireworks over the Bolte Bridge wowed crowds, with cheers and applause from those glad to see the back of 2021.
Temperatures soared to a high of 37.3C at 6pm, had dropped to a still balmy 25.4C for the early fireworks and were at 22.9C by midnight.
Adelaide also sweated into the new year with temperatures in parts of the city reaching 40C in the afternoon, as plans were scaled back due to the virus.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s new year’s message was upbeat despite the tremendous challenges facing the country as COVID-19 rips through the nation.
PM: ‘We’re stronger today’
“That is why, despite the pandemic, despite the floods, the fires, continuing drought in some areas, the cyclones, the lockdowns, even mice plagues, Australia is stronger today than we were a year ago. And we’re safer,” he said on Friday.
“We have one of the lowest death rates and the highest vaccination rates from COVID anywhere in the world.”
He added that having one of the strongest advanced economies in the world to come through COVID also gave confidence for what lies ahead.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese was also positive in his brief New Year’s message, while acknowledging 2021 had been “really tough” with people often isolated for long periods.
“So let’s hope 2022 brings health and happiness for all and a much easier time. Have a happy New Year,” he said.
Their messages on the last day of 2021 came as the nation recorded almost 33,000 new COVID-19 cases for the latest 24-hour reporting period.