After almost two years of Covid lockdowns, Sydney’s nightlife has returned to its former glory as party-starved Australians dust off their dancing shoes and hit the streets.
Thousands of revellers flocked to bars and clubs across the Harbour City on Thursday night to mark the beginning of the first Easter long weekend since 2019 without a raft of restrictions.
Despite daily Covid infections still soaring – with 17,856 reported in NSW on Thursday before a drop to around 10,000 daily over the public holiday weekend – many believe it is time to learn to live with the virus now vaccination rates are high.
Sydneysider Elissa, who hit the city over the weekend, started going back out around the start of this year as restrictions for venues began to ease.
She is still yet to catch Covid, but believes the fear of contracting the virus should not stop people from living.
Sydneysider Elissa told Daily Mail Australia she has been enjoying going out since restrictions were lifted earlier this year
Thousands of revellers have hit bars across the country as Australians enjoy Easter celebrations
‘Covid is Covid. You’ve got to learn to live with it,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
Elissa and friend Michelle said the atmosphere in the city began to feel normal again about two months ago.
‘It’s been really good. It’s been good to go out,’ they said.
For Sinead, Thursday was the first time she had been out with friends to have a drink in a bar since the start of the pandemic.
‘We never went out before. We were really apprehensive [about getting Covid]. We didn’t want to impact our family or work,’ she said.
‘But now everyone’s vaccinated we feel at ease. It’s great to be out. ‘
Alana and Jess said packed bars in the city appeared to be ‘totally back to normal’ with ‘happy, positive vibes’.
Sinead (right) enjoyed her first night out with friends in two years on Thursday after being extremely vigilant throughout the pandemic to protect family and people at work
Alana (left) and Jess (right) said the city is back thriving after two years of lockdowns
Sydneysiders poured into bars across the city for post-work drinks on Thursday night
‘I was going out as soon as everything started opening up because I was so excited,’ Jess said.
‘It’s just good to see people out. It’s so much fun.
‘Once we’d had it [Covid], there were no worries [about having it again] at all.’
Nat and Liz stopped into a packed bar in Sydney’s CBD on Thursday night to have a drink.
They started going out as ‘soon as we could’ and have been ‘loving it’.
Although the risk of catching Covid remains high, the pair said vaccinations made it safer for people to be out and about.
‘I’ve had Covid, I’m invincible,’ their friend, who wished to remain anonymous, joked.
Nat added: ‘I had it a few weeks ago, so now I’m fine. Everyone is vaccinated now, so if you go out, you risk getting it, but you’re unlikely to get seriously ill.’
Nat and Liz said they have been loving life after lockdown and eased Covid restrictions
Dan and Mark have welcomed the return to pre-Covid normal, which has seen thousands pack into bars throughout the long weekend
Dan joked that he was a ‘degenerate’ who has been going out since January.
‘The rain has been more of a problem than lockdowns,’ he said.
‘This bar is closed when it rains.’
His friend Mark had just arrived in Australia from Singapore, which only eased lockdown restrictions a few weeks ago.
Mark believes the majority of people are no longer concerned about catching the virus.
‘I think most people are comfortable with the idea that they are going to get it, or they have already had it,’ he said.
Kate went out on Thursday night for dinner to celebrate her 20th birthday with her friend Hannah.
After lockdown lifted, the pair started going out ‘heaps’.
Bars across the Harbour City were teeming with revellers as the Easter long weekend kicked off on Thursday evening
Kate (left), who turned 20 on Thursday, and Hannah (right) have started going out more since lockdown lifted, but mainly on special occasions as staying at home has become a large part of their new routine
Heather (pictured left) was out on Good Friday eve to celebrate her birthday with friends playing Easter bingo
However, they have found some of the lifestyle habits they formed during lockdown have stuck.
‘We find now we’re happy to stay home and get takeaway,’ Hannah said.
‘I feel like [lockdowns] have just opened up that door, and now we feel alright to stay home.
Kate added: ‘Yeah it made me a homebody. But it is nice now to be able to go out again, mainly on special occasions.’
Friends Laura, Brooke and Georgie work for the same company in different offices in Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne.
On Thursday, they reunited for the first time since May 2021 for a night out in Barangaroo after being kept separated by each state’s varying travel restrictions.
Friends Laura, Brooke and Georgie reunited in Sydney on Thursday for a night out after being separated across state borders for almost 12 months
Laura, Emma, and Rachel headed out to an emo night at a Darlinghurst bar on Thursday
A long line snaked outside of Frankie’s in Sydney’s CBD as partygoers flocked out for a night of fun
‘It’s great to go out. It’s great to have our lives back,’ they said.
‘We haven’t been able to see each other because we all live in different states.
‘This is night one of five nights. Wish us luck!’
Laura, Emma, and Rachel went to an ’emo night’ on Thursday at the Burdekin Hotel, in Darlinghurst.
‘They have an event there every month,’ they said.
‘So we have been going there since they opened after Covid.’
Tahlia and Kirsten went to an event in Newtown before heading to Oxford Street for some late night drinks.
They said there was a vibrant party atmosphere in the city and, after both having had Covid this year, they were not worried about catching it again.
‘I got Covid when mask mandates were first removed for hospitality,’ Kirsten, who owns a bar, said.
‘Now I’m not worried about it because I already got it and it wasn’t too bad.’
Kirsten (left) and Tahlia (right) said there was a party atmosphere in the city on Thursday night and the majority of people do not seem concerned about catching Covid
Tahlia said only a few people at the concert they attended were wearing masks.
‘It seemed like a couple of people were worried, but the majority weren’t.’
Since mid-February in NSW, density limits and singing and dancing bans have been scrapped for hospitality venues as the state’s double-dose vaccination rate for over 16s has soared above 90 per cent.
Masks are also now only mandatory on public transport, planes and indoor at airports, aged and disability care facilities, correction centres, and indoor music festivals with more than 1,000 people.
Due to the highly-contagious and now-dominant Omicron strain, case numbers remain high hovering around 15,000 a day in NSW.
But despite surging infections, hospitalisations rates have remained relatively low because the presiding variant causes less severe illness than its predecessor, Delta.
Although many Australians are embracing pre-pandemic freedoms, some believe people should be more cautious when visiting busy public venues.
Restaurants in Barangaroo were packed on Thursday night as families and young people enjoyed the start of the Easter long weekend
Throngs of people queue outside a bar in The Rocks as the city returns to normal after two years of lockdowns
A Perth woman slammed revellers for not wearing masks while mingling in clubs and bars
One woman from Western Australia, where more than 95 per cent of over 16s are double vaccinated, has slammed clubbers for failing to wear masks.
Under WA rules, residents aged eight and over are required to wear masks in all indoor public spaces.
LATEST 24-HOUR COVID-19 DATA FROM ACROSS AUSTRALIA:
NSW: 9725 cases, six deaths, 1527 in hospital, 64 in ICU
Victoria: 8153 cases, two deaths, 401 in hospital, 25 in ICU
Queensland: 4850 cases, no deaths, 563 in hospital, 19 in ICU
Western Australia: 5112 cases, eight deaths (seven historical), 220 in hospital, seven in ICU
South Australia: 2675 cases, 225 in hospital, 12 in ICU
Tasmania: 1212 cases, no deaths, 47 in hospital, one in ICU
Northern Territory: 340 cases, 26 in hospital
‘The amount of people I’ve seen on Instagram and Snapchat stories not wearing masks in clubs this weekend is absolutely infuriating,’ the woman wrote on Facebook.
‘In Perth we’re at a Covid peak. I know people my age don’t take Covid seriously cause if we get it we’re not gonna die but so many people have and will and you’re putting others at risk.
‘It’s so selfish and makes me so mad.’
The woman said people need to ‘do better’ and while ‘wearing masks sucks’, ‘at the end of the day it keeps you and the people around you safe.’
‘I’ve seen barely anyone wear them and it’s so infuriating like at least use some common sense and put it on,’ she continued.
The post was quickly met with hundreds of responses, with many saying they are refraining from going out to avoid getting sick.
‘As somebody with a 10 month old baby with underlying health conditions, it makes me anxious how much people have stopped caring and being worried about Covid,’ one mother replied.
‘I swear it’s all I think about. I don’t remember the last time I saw any of my friends or went to any event because I’m too scared that my baby will get sick.’
Another said: ‘I love wearing a mask. [It] makes me feel safer. I wish people wore them more (even without mandates).’
‘Dude I work at a nightclub and we constantly had to tell people all the damn time to put a mask on when we had the mandate and they wouldn’t,’ a third person said.
There were 9725 new cases reported in NSW on Sunday and six virus-related deaths. Infections were down 3876 from 13,601 recorded on Saturday.
Across the state, 96.1 per cent of over 16s have now had one Covid vaccine, 94.7 per cent have received two, and 61.8 per cent are triple jabbed.
Victoria added more than 8000 infections and two fatalities on Sunday, while there were 4850 new cases in Queensland, and more than 5000 in Western Australia.
More than 41,000 new cases and 35 deaths were reported across the nation on Saturday, while net hospital admissions and those to intensive care were both up slightly.
Despite Covid restrictions being eased across Australia, some people remain hesitant to go out