#Australia has finally completed a year that felt to many like it would never end.
#At the stroke of midnight residents up and down the country’s east coast were the first to cheer to the end of 2020, lookoing forward with hope for what 2021 could bring.
#Masks and kisses as countries welcome 2021
The fireworks were as bright as ever, but the mood was far different: CBD foreshores and parks were largely quiet, and the traditional thrum of restaurants and pubs was muted.
#It has been a year with more challenges than many have seen in a lifetime: from devastating bushfires to a global pandemic, nearly every resident in #Australia has been touched by events that started far overseas.
The 2020 #Olympics were cancelled, family events and holidays postponed, weddings culled down to single-digit guests or called off altogether and in the middle of it all was a US election.
#Interest rates dropped to historic lows as unemployment (temporarily) threatened to rise to record highs.
#It became normal to wear surgical masks in supermarkets, and hundreds of thousands of businesses learnt to embrace the “pivot” in order to keep cash coming in.
#But many realise that the passing of a calendar year means little for a global virus that is seemingly mutating every few months.
NSW is currently battling an outbreak of cases that started on the #Northern #Beaches, and has since spread to #Sydney’s inner west.
#Victoria, having endured the longest lockdown of any state in #Australia, had its 61-day streak broken after three new cases were discovered yesterday.
#As a result, #Victorians are now asked to wear masks indoors and borders have once again been fortified to domestic travellers.
#Queensland, #South #Australia, the #Northern #Territory, the ACT and #Western #Australia all remain free of locally-acquired cases – but each have introduced border restrictions or quarantine mandates to prevent it spreading further.
#But, for all the doom and gloom, there is hope: a COVID-19 vaccine – several in fact – has been developed, and is currently in the process of gaining regulatory approval.
#While not foolproof, the vaccine is widely anticipated to ease domestic and international travel and reduce fear of community transmission.
#Authorities say the vaccine rollout is “on target”, with the first #Australians to receive their jab in #March.
#Masks and kisses in #Melbourne
#New #Zealand the first to enter 2021
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##Australia #celebrates #year