SYDNEY: The annual New Year Eve fireworks show in Melbourne, Australia's second largest city, has been canceled and replaced with a two-day street food festival this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Melbourne City Council said on Monday.
The change has been made to avoid large-scale outdoor gathering as the fireworks show usually attracts about 400,000 people to the city which could become a public health threat during a pandemic, the city council said in a statement.
Instead, dining precincts will be set up across the city of Melbourne, encouraging people to enjoy their New Year celebrations at more than 50 venues, some are located at the most popular eat streets such as Flinders Lane and Little Bourke Street.
The Lord Mayor of Melbourne Sally Capp said the New Year Street Feasts will support local hospitality businesses that had been hit hard during the pandemic lockdown.
"This has been an incredibly tough year and we want to mark its end by celebrating and supporting Melbourne's wonderful cafes, bars and restaurants," Capp said.
"We are tailoring a program to safely encourage more patrons into our incredible and deserving hospitality businesses that have struggled through lockdown restrictions."
The cancelation came after Melbourne ended its COVID-19 lockdown recently which had lasted for almost four months.
As of Monday, the Australian State of Victoria, where Melbourne is the capital recorded its 17th consecutive day without any new COVID-19 cases or virus-related deaths.