Sydneysiders are being forced to change plans and businesses are cancelling New Year’s Eve events as cases of Omicron soar.
Long lines have formed at PCR testing clinics over the festive season, with some clinics closed or operating on reduced hours until January 4th.
Sonya queued for three hours at RPA to get tested after failing to find a drive through testing clinic which was open.
“I had to wait 3 days for my result from RPA. In the meantime, I had found out I was positive through a home test,” she told City Hub.
Sonya and her husband cancelled plans to travel interstate to see family, and cancelled NYE celebrations at their home in Balmain.
She said people need to be cautious this NYE, “as Omicron is so easy to catch.”
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has urged people not to get tested unless they are unwell or have been directly advised.
“It is tempting for some to claim that the pain and disappointment experienced over the past few weeks could have been avoided, and case numbers kept low,” the Premier wrote in the Herald yesterday.
“But given Omicron’s hyper-transmissibility, the only way to keep its numbers down would be to enforce the most severe lockdown yet: borders shut tight, everyone staying home, workplaces shut down, communities crippled. In short, Christmas cancelled for everyone.
“Rather than harsh, widespread lockdowns, we are isolating at the individual and household level. It’s not easy, but it is by far the lesser evil,” he said.
Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park has criticised the NSW government for failing to have a plan for hospitals and healthcare workers and failing to increase the number of testing clinics.
On December 29th he said, “this is a system that is at breaking point. And this has come about because we’ve got a Premier who refuses to take responsibility for not following the health advice two weeks ago to ensure people remained wearing masks and continued to use those QR codes.
“The Premier must have known that given the fact Christmas and the New Year appear at the same time every single year, that there was going to be pressure on the health system at this time.
Park requested that the government call on extra support from the Commonwealth.
“We’re calling on the NSW government to make sure they’re reaching out to the Commonwealth to get additional resources, additional staff to take some pressure off our testing clinics, off our pathology labs and off our hospitals.”
Max Altman, 26, from Newtown, said his friendship group leading up to the holidays felt that they were likely to get Omicron, but hoped they wouldn’t get it until after Christmas and NYE.
“[…] A widely held view among my friends is just let me stay negative until I get to NYE, then I don’t care, I’m happy to get it over with,” Max told City Hub.
Max became one of the unlucky ones when he received a positive test result on Christmas Eve, “the perfect time to ruin both Christmas and NYE.”
“It was frustrating to be forced to isolate for Christmas away from my family, but I’m a lot more annoyed by it also affecting my NYE plans.
“I was going to be DJing at a music event run by my friends, and now I have to miss out and have some of the most heavily pronounced FOMO I’ve ever experienced.
“With the policies being made by the NSW government, it feels like the two years of sacrifice we’ve made has kind of been for nothing and our public health service that has done the bulk of the heavy lifting over that time period is being stretched beyond breaking point,” he said.
Due to changes implemented last night, health advice now allows people to leave isolation after seven days if they get a negative result on a rapid antigen test on day six meaning Max can now attend NYE celebrations.
Watson’s at the Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park also cancelled their NYE event.
“We have several staff in isolation, making it difficult to fill the roster. We have had countless cancelled bookings due to hesitation from patrons to be in a public space, even given the fact we have such an expansive outdoor space in our beer garden,” Michael Watson, Owner of Watson’s, told City Hub.
Hemant, owner of the Lodge Bar Balmain shut his business due to dwindling customers and catching Omicron.
He said he’s been at home and miserable all Christmas.
“Running up to this week I was hoping that we would get an influx of guests and well needed cash, but that’s gone now,” he told City Hub.