This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Australia, which closed in 2021.

New Years Eve In Australia: A COVID-Safe Guide To Celebrating At Home Because... 2020

With Sydney fireworks restrictions and other rules, seeing in 2021 will be a quieter affair – but maybe, after everything, that’s a good thing.

If there’s any year that many of us are ready to bid farewell to, it’s probably 2020.

But with another COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney and restrictions in other states and territories, it makes sense to celebrate New Year’s Eve in a safe way.

There’ll be no kissing random strangers at midnight, or being so blind drunk you miss the countdown. Seeing in 2021 will be a quieter affair – but maybe, after everything, that’s a good thing.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has banned large gatherings outdoor to watch Sydney’s world-famous NYE fireworks.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has banned large gatherings outdoor to watch Sydney’s world-famous NYE fireworks.

New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian has banned large gatherings outdoor to watch Sydney’s world-famous NYE fireworks, and urged people to instead stay home on December 31 and watch the event on television.

Only residents with permits for hospitality venues will be allowed into the city on New Year’s Eve and households across Sydney are only allowed to host five people (including children). Outdoor gatherings are limited to 30 people.

“Our preferred advice is that people just stay home for New Year’s Eve,” Berejiklian said in a press conference on Wednesday.

“But if must have people over, don’t have more than five and please make sure you have adequate social distancing, good ventilation, all those things Dr Chant and the health experts talk about.”

In Victoria 15 people are permitted at home gatherings and mandatory masks indoors. The only people allowed into the central business district (CBD) are those who already have a booking at a hospitality venue.

In Queensland people are allowed 50 people in the home, 100 in a public space for a private gathering, and 100 people outside in a public space on New Year’s Eve.

What can you actually do, though?

The benefit of this year is there is no social pressure to go to a party you might not enjoy, or buy a dress you can’t afford – “it truly is the year to do New Year in your own unique way, there are no rules,” says Wendy Shooter, a wellbeing psychologist.

Another expert agrees.

“It could actually be a bit of a relief if you’ve always slightly dreaded NYE, but also not wanted to miss out,” says therapist Sally Brown, who is registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

“If everyone is staying in, there’s no FOMO. Not being able to go out is harder on extroverts, though – and people who live alone.”

The best things to have come out of this year for many people have been getting to know our neighbours and looking out for one another, so Brown says celebrating should be about that: connecting with people, whether in person or remotely, and checking in on neighbours.

You could also...

Cook your favourite dinner. Or something new completely. Food is comfort, after all. There are loads of delicious recipes here, so take your pick. Following the limits on how many you can invite into your home, why not host an intimate board games night or movie marathon and serve your favourite nibbles while you’re at it.

Remind yourselves what you’re grateful for. You might have been told this over and over again this year, but it does help. Dr Sue Roffey, a wellbeing psychologist, suggests lighting a candle for each thing you’re thankful for. It’s hard, though, to practise gratitude in such unsettling times. Robert Emmons, a scientific expert on gratitude, says consider “gratitude forecasting” if you’re finding it tough. “Imagine how grateful you will be when life returns to normal. Consider simple pleasures that you are currently deprived of, and then visualise experiencing those once again.”

Connect with someone you love. “The most important thing to do is to have some sort of connection – phone, Zoom, someone in your bubble – with just one person, even if only for a short while,” suggests Dr Roffey. “It is important to acknowledge the tough times, but also focus on things to look forward to.” Yes, zoom fatigue is a thing – so set yourself a time limit if you’re video calling (an hour, perhaps). You’ll always feel better after speaking to someone you love. Dr Roffey suggests asking each other questions like: What is the best thing you watched this year? What is the kindest thing anyone did for you this year? What really made you laugh? You can also look ahead, asking: What is the one thing you are looking forward to next year? Or what is the one think you are going to do to focus on your wellbeing in 2021?

Watch something brilliant on TV. Rewatching a TV programme that makes you belly laugh, or a film you loved from your childhood is always a winner. This isn’t a time to keep on top of the latest series, it’s a time for a serious nostalgia fix.

Find what relaxes you, do it – and do it again. Journalling, drawing, having a bath, meditating, listening to a soothing soundtrack, tidying, putting candles on, napping, yoga. Whatever it is – now’s the time to do it. As Wendy Shooter says: “If you want to go to bed at 10pm with a good book – then do just that.”

Never miss a thing. Sign up to HuffPost Australia’s weekly newsletter for the latest news, exclusives and guides to achieving the good life.

Suggest a correction
This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Australia. Certain site features have been disabled. If you have questions or concerns, please check our FAQ or contact