As Omicron rises, Victorians get ready for New Year’s Eve. Here’s what’s going on with calling in 2022

It’s that time of year again where we start telling our peers “see you next year”.

But as Victorians prepare to say goodbye to 2021 and celebrate their path into 2022, there are a number of things that may not feel normal.

Tens of thousands will spend the countdown in quarantine or isolation, either as a case of COVID-19 or a close contact with one.

Authorities are calling for caution in the midst of record-breaking daily cases, a trend that is expected to continue into the new year.

Most major events – even those that are free – require tickets to attend, proof that you are fully vaccinated, and check-in upon arrival.

And a heatwave forces some last-minute changes to the plans.

Here’s what to expect this New Year in Victoria:

What’s happening in Melbourne and the Victoria region

Melbourne New Year's Eve fireworks, seen from the Arts Center.
The Melbourne fireworks will continue, but the crowds will look very different from previous counts.(ABC News: Lloyd Young / File)

Melbourne welcomes its fireworks back this year, but you will not be able to wander into the city to see the shows.

Unlike the usual roof terraces, the fireworks are held across four private “Celebration Zones” in an attempt to reduce crowds and keep track of all participants.

All 42,000 registered free tickets have already been taken.

“We have gone to great lengths to ensure that partygoers can ring the New Year into Melbourne in a COVID-safe way,” said Mayor Sally Capp.

“These Celebration Zones will allow smaller crowds to gather in controlled environments at different ends of the city, ensuring the safest possible event.”

But if you’ve missed the fireworks, tickets are still on sale for New Year’s street parties, which continue again after a successful first race last year.

People sitting happy at an outdoor table setting in a street in Melbourne.
Melbourne Street Feast is one of a series of outdoor events run by the City of Melbourne.(Delivered: Melbourne Food and Wine Festival)

Regionally, some major fireworks events will be held in Bendigo, Geelong, Paynesville, Mildura, Phillip Island, Shepparton and Warrnambool.

Along the Murray River, border posts hope there will not be a repeat of last year’s New Year’s Eve, where the Victorian government announced that people should return to their home states within 48 hours.

In Moama, the local golf club is holding a music concert with fireworks that have almost sold out its 500 tickets.

Meanwhile, music festivals will ring into the new year around the state, such as the Beyond the Valley replacement, Beyond the City, the Melbourne CBD and the NYE on the Hill event.

However, a New Year’s Eve festival to be held in Tallarook has already been canceled due to COVID-19.

King Gizzard’s Timeland was scheduled to run from Dec. 31 at the regular Boogie Festival venue, but in a statement, festival organizers said the risk of infection for staff and attendees was too high.

A heat wave cancels some events but inspires others

People flock to a beach in Warrnambool in southwestern Victoria.
Victorians will ring in the new year in the midst of soaring temperatures.(ABC News: Emily Bissland)

Warm temperatures force changes to some events during the New Year period, with fireworks canceled in Horsham at the annual free New Year’s Eve at its exhibition venues.

The weather forecast for Victoria is expected to be warm and sunny, with 33 degrees expected in Melbourne and temperatures closer to 40 degrees elsewhere in the state.

Andrea Cross of Horsham’s Agricultural Society said the heat had caused problems.

“We do not have fireworks because Wimmera is dry and crusty. We have some spot fires this month and so we have a ‘responsible shazam’, as we call it, at midnight,” Ms Cross said.

A large pavilion in a sunny area.
Maydale Reserve in Horsham, where the NYE 2021 fireworks have been canceled due to the heat.(ABC News: Alexander Darling)

There will also be arm paint, the socially distant version of face paint.

The warm weather is a good thing for another event – Bendigo’s community-run Golden Square Pool annual family New Year’s Eve celebration.

large pool, with people playing and blue sky - happy photo
The jointly run Golden Square Pool is preparing for a New Year’s party.(Facebook: Golden Square Pool)

“A lot of people will be looking for a place to relax and cool off, and the pool is probably the best place to be,” said Golden Square Pool President Sam Kane.

Some of us see the new year in isolation

While most of us are trying to figure out what to do or where to go, thousands of Victorians will use the countdown at home with COVID-19 or isolate themselves because they are in close contact with someone with the virus.

Melburnian Claire Brady, 30, had tickets to an event until she found out her housemate had tested positive for COVID-19 on Christmas Day.

A young woman is sitting and looking at a laptop in a hanging outdoor chair.
Melbourne nurse Claire Brady says she will likely sleep until the midnight countdown, after being identified as a close contact.(Delivered by: Claire Brady)

“It’s primarily a little annoying, I think, but when I work as a nurse, I know I can do nothing else and I would hate to expose other people to danger.”

More than 40,000 people – those with COVID-19 and their close contacts – were reported to be in isolation as of December 29, and the number is expected to grow.

And if you’re planning a party, there are some things you can do

Despite rising case numbers in Victoria, the state government said authorities were asking people to take a sensible approach to the New Year celebration to protect themselves.

Health Minister Martin Foley said it would be key to follow rules that were in place – such as wearing masks indoors and social distancing.

He also encouraged people to hold New Year’s parties outside or with full ventilation if they were indoors.

a fast antigen testing tool
Quick antigen tests can be administered at home and usually cost up to $ 10.(ABC News)

People have also been asked to take a quick antigen test as an additional screening measure and to stay home if they have even the slightest symptoms.

“These are important steps that Victorians can take to protect themselves and protect each other in an environment where we see a large circulation of these varieties of concern in our society,” he said.

Covid-19 test commander Jeroen Weimar said the state ran about 10 to 12 days behind New South Wales when it came to case numbers.

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