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’.
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
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
‘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.
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
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.’
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.
Throngs of people queue outside a bar in The Rocks as the city returns to normal after two years of lockdowns