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Spectators banned from Sydney’s New Year’s fireworks

The move came as South Korea recorded its first cases of the Covid variant first identified in the UK.

AUTHORITIES HAVE BANNED revellers from congregating in Sydney’s downtown harbourside to see the city’s celebrated New Year’s Eve fireworks due to the pandemic risk.

New South Wales state premier Gladys Berejiklian said today that people who live in the city centre could invite up to 10 guests to their homes to celebrate. The guests will have to apply for permits to enter the area.

Australia’s largest city recorded five new cases of Covid-19 connected to a cluster in its northern beaches region, bringing the total to 126 infections since 10 December.

Around a million people usually congregate on the harbour foreshore to see the annual fireworks that centre on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

Elsewhere, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he planned to submit legislation making coronavirus measures legally binding for businesses, and to punish violators and include economic compensation as his government struggles to slow the ongoing upsurge.

Japan had a state of emergency in April and May with non-binding requests for people to stay home and business to close, but people have become complacent about the pandemic and store owners have become less cooperative due to the economic impact.

Suga said experts were discussing the legislation to make coronavirus more effectively enforced and hoped to submit the bill for parliamentary approval “as soon as possible” next year.

South Korea confirmed its first cases of the more contagious variant of Covid-19 that was first identified in the United Kingdom. 

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Monday the cases were found in a family of three who arrived in South Korea on 22 December.

They flew in a day before South Korea halted air travel from Britain until 31 December to guard against the new version of the virus.

The three people, who reside in the UK, are under quarantine in South Korea.

South Korea on Monday registered 808 new coronavirus cases, raising its national caseload to 57,680 with 819 deaths.

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