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‘Kisses are out’: NYE warning for NSW, Vic

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Last year, the Northern Beaches Covid-19 cluster forced Sydney revellers to have just five guests over at their homes on December 31.This time around, there are no restrictions on how many people you can invite to your end of year bash, but epidemiologists are warning people to be sensible in what could end up being a superspreader event.In particular, a cheeky midnight smooch is not recommended as Omicron cases surge past 6000 a day in the state. And Victorians haven’t been spared either, as surging coronavirus cases also spark concerns across the state. “Hugs and kisses are out this year but big smiles are in,” University of Sydney infectious diseases expert Professor Robert Booy, told The Daily Telegraph.Former World Health epidemiologist Adrian Esterman joked to the publication: “If both parties wear a face mask when they kiss, we’ll be pretty safe.”However, there was a ring of truth to what he said, with one expert even going a step further and calling for face masks to be worn outside. Epidemiologist Professor Nancy Baxter told The Herald Sun: “It’s better to not go at all, or to watch the fireworks from the car, but if you do go, make a wise decision and wear masks outdoors because you won’t be socially distanced.”Earlier this week, NSW and Victoria both reintroduced face mask mandates as case numbers continued to mount across the two states.In NSW, anyone over the age of 12 has to wear a face mask at all indoor settings except inside a private home. Victoria has the same rule except for people from the age of eight years old onwards. Face masks must also be worn in the southern state will at all major events where there are more than 30,000 people present.It’s not all bad news for New Year’s Eve, though.Another epidemiologist thinks holding an event outdoors is a huge game changer which bodes well for the end of year festivities.Professor Robert Booy, from the University of Sydney, spoke to the Today Show on Sunday morning about the Boxing Day Test Match kicking off in Melbourne. Despite 70,000 cricket fans attending, he said the fact it was being held outside was key to reducing the virus spread.“It is a risk at the pinch points where people are gathering together for periods to go and get food or even line up for the loo,” he told viewers. “[But] if you are outside you have much better ventilation. “If you have got masks on and you aren’t close to people, if you are careful not to hug and/or kiss your family, but just … give them a big smile, you can do a bunch of stuff that makes it safer outside and I think they [big events] can go ahead.”He added in warning: “I think people should be as careful as possible. I know about a family event at Christmas yesterday. They did all of the right things and already someone is positive.”



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