Sydney Mardi Gras 2021 Everything you need to know
Sydney’s annual Mardi Gras celebration will look very different to previous years, but even in a global pandemic the city’s most colourful show must go on.
Held in February, the 2020 festival was the last major event before Sydney went into lockdown.
This year the parade will not be free to attend, the first time in its 40 year history.
Here’s everything you need to know before the event:
Will there be a parade this year?
Due to concerns around crowd control and COVID-19 restrictions there will be no parade down Oxford Street to celebrate this year’s Mardi Gras festival.
Instead, more than 30,000 people will gather at the Sydney Cricket Ground for an official ticketed event with police issuing a warning to those planning to celebrate in the city.
The SCG parade will feature more than 5,000 people from over 100 LGBTQI+ community groups as well as a live performance from Rita Ora.
What are the coronavirus restrictions for Mardi Gras?
At the SCG, floats will not be permitted with parade entries limited to groups of 40.
The venues will also be capped at 75 per cent capacity with roughly 33,000 people expected to attend.
All attendees will have to undergo temperature checks on the way into the venue and social distancing marshals will be monitoring crowds for social distancing.
Performers backstage will also be required to wear a mask as will anyone taking public transport to and from the event.
Elsewhere around Sydney, private gathering caps remain at 50 people and restrictions around social distancing and the two-square metre are also in place at bars and pubs.
Dance floors remain closed around NSW.
“This year’s parade will look significantly different to what we have seen previously,” Assistant Commissioner Gelina Talbot said.
“Our response will be a high visibility and mobile response across a footprint including Sydney Cricket Ground, inside and outside, it includes Moore Park and the entertainment quarter, it will include Flinders Street and Oxford street and Hyde Park.”
Police will also be increasing their presence on public transport to ensure crowd control and the wearing of face masks.
“We are still in the middle of a pandemic, we can’t be complacent,” Ms Tabolt said.
Will there be other Mardi Gras events?
While the main Mardi Gras celebrations will be confined to the SCG, authorities said they expect most venues to be operating at capacity this weekend and urged anyone without a pre-booked event to celebrate at home.
“There are no street events and there will not be any lining up to get into venues,” Ms Tabolt said.
“Anyone found committing any social behaviour that is criminal, violence or offensive will be identified quickly and you will be removed. Our priority is the safety of the community coming out to celebrate Mardi Gras.”
Will there be a Mardi Gras protest?
Police have withdrawn their challenge against Pride in Protest after NSW Heath granted the gay rights activist group permission to go ahead with the demonstration tomorrow.
NSW Health granted the exemption to exceed the current cap of 500 people at protests after negotiations with event organisers to facilitate easier contact tracing at the event.
More than 1500 people expected to take part and will be divided into groups of 500 before they march through the city’s CBD.
The demonstration is expected to take place at 2pm tomorrow with the proposed route expected to go from Taylor Square to Hyde Park.
Masks and hand sanitiser will be made available to those attending.
Will public transport be impacted?
Extra public transport services will be running to accommodate for crowds travelling to the SCG tomorrow evening.
However, attendees have been urged walk or drive where possible to ease pressure on train and bus routes.
“We need you to plan ahead there’s going to be a lot of people headed up to the SCG,” Mark Hutchings from Transport NSW said.
“We’re urging you to hoof it up the hill – it’s going to make it a heap easier for us.”
“We’ve got to do this safely so plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time because we do have restrictions … if everyone lobs at the same time we will have delays.”
“It is mandatory to wear your mask on all forms of PT and we’ll have extra cops and people handing them out.”