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A sold-out harbourside spectacular and the biggest end-of-year party attracting tems of thousands of Schoolies prove young Australians have bounced back from the hated Covid lockdowns and restrictions. 

An estimated 25,000 year 12 students are expected to show up at the popular Gold Coast hot spot this weekend to kick off the annual three-week schoolies shindig.

And in Sydney, the Harbourlife 2022 dance party also kicked off on Saturday at Mrs Macquarie’s Point overlooking the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

Both events came amid dire warnings the new Omicron variant would wreak havoc among young festive-goers, as Covid zealots demand tougher rules.

But the revellers shrugged off the doomsday predictions to kick up their heels and party on for the first time in years. 

But while the fun police clamped down, it didn't stop thousands from crowding both hotly anticipated Gold Coast (pictured, Schoolies on Saturday) and Sydney events

But while the fun police clamped down, it didn’t stop thousands from crowding both hotly anticipated Gold Coast (pictured, Schoolies on Saturday) and Sydney events 

School leavers celebrate the end-of-year joy of finishing high school (pictured) on Saturday

School leavers celebrate the end-of-year joy of finishing high school (pictured) on Saturday

Excited party goers snapping it up at the popular waterside house music party (pictured)

Excited party goers snapping it up at the popular waterside house music party (pictured)

An estimated 25,000 year 12 students are expected to show up at the popular Gold Coast hot spot this weekend to kick off the annual three-week schoolies shindig (pictured, young festive goers

An estimated 25,000 year 12 students are expected to show up at the popular Gold Coast hot spot this weekend to kick off the annual three-week schoolies shindig (pictured, young festive goers 

A Harbourlife attendee (pictured) fronts up at this year's first festival since 2019

A Harbourlife attendee (pictured) fronts up at this year’s first festival since 2019 

Revellers took to the dance floor with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House views wearing an assortment of funky ensembles (pictured) and skin-tight florescent garb

Young festive goers  (pictured) ham it up on the Gold Coast on Saturday night

Young festive goers  (pictured) ham it up on the Gold Coast on Saturday night 

Crowds of school leavers took to the Gold Coast streets on Saturday (pictured)

Crowds of school leavers took to the Gold Coast streets on Saturday (pictured)

The biggest end-of-year party attracted thousands of Schoolies (pictured) proving young Australian are moving on from dreaded Covid rules

The biggest end-of-year party attracted thousands of Schoolies (pictured) proving young Australian are moving on from dreaded Covid rules 

Girls and guys enjoying the new found freedoms (pictured) after Covid rules diminished last year's numbers

Girls and guys enjoying the new found freedoms (pictured) after Covid rules diminished last year’s numbers 

School leavers posing during the night time festivities on Saturday on the Gold Coast (pictured)

School leavers posing during the night time festivities on Saturday on the Gold Coast (pictured)

Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard recommended last week that the state's traffic light COVID-19 advisory system should switch to amber but it didn't dampen the spirits of these Schoolies (pictured)

Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard recommended last week that the state’s traffic light COVID-19 advisory system should switch to amber but it didn’t dampen the spirits of these Schoolies (picture

The new Covid-19 upsurge in Omicron cases has one expert calling on party-goers to take precautions (pictured, teenagers enjoying the spoils of the Gold Coast nightlife)

The new Covid-19 upsurge in Omicron cases has one expert calling on party-goers to take precautions (pictured, teenagers enjoying the spoils of the Gold Coast nightlife)

NSW Health upgraded its COVID-19 risk rating to amber on Friday, which means the return of masks in all hospital areas, ‘to protect staff and patients’ as case numbers rise once again.

There were 22,672 people across NSW diagnosed with COVID-19 in the week ending 12 November, an increase of nearly 52.8 per cent on figures from the previous week, NSW Health said.

The surge sparked more ominous warnings from health chiefs who fear another Christmas outbreak with the potential for more dreaded lockdowns.

NSW Health Deputy Secretary Deb Willcox said these changes are in place so ‘our staff and the community can look forward to the festive season with greater confidence’. 

This year - with most Covid restrictions axed - it is expected to see a return to the heyday of schoolies, despite warnings from some (pictured, party goers on the Gold Coast on Saturday)

This year – with most Covid restrictions axed – it is expected to see a return to the heyday of schoolies, despite warnings from some (pictured, party goers on the Gold Coast on Saturday)

The Schoolies shindig (pictured, Schoolies on Saturday) comes after two years of Covid disruption to the annual Australian passage of rite, known for its wild out-of-control partying and non-stop celebrations

The Schoolies shindig (pictured, Schoolies on Saturday) comes after two years of Covid disruption to the annual Australian passage of rite, known for its wild out-of-control partying and non-stop celebrations

Young shoppers get supplies (pictured) on Saturday as Schoolies takes off on the Gold Coast

Young shoppers get supplies (pictured) on Saturday as Schoolies takes off on the Gold Coast

But Deakin University chair of epidemiology Catherine Bennett, one of the loudest voices calling for more restrictions in the past, reckons lockdowns won’t happen.

‘Lockdowns won’t work, they don’t work with Omicron… we would only go back to that if we were absolutely desperate,’ she said.

 ‘If we had a variant that was bringing serious illness in a way we haven’t seen before, then we might need to resort to more enforced measures.’

Guys in light summer attire flock to the Harbourlife festival on Saturday

Guys in light summer attire flock to the Harbourlife festival on Saturday

Revellers in Sydney take to the streets for the waterside festival (pictured)

Revellers in Sydney take to the streets for the waterside festival (pictured)

Girls sporting an array of colours took to the turnstiles at the Harbour City festivities (pictured)

Girls sporting an array of colours took to the turnstiles at the Harbour City festivities (pictured)

A young woman takes it all in at the Habourlife house music extravaganza (pictured)

A young woman takes it all in at the Habourlife house music extravaganza (pictured)

Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard also recommended last week that the state’s traffic light COVID-19 advisory system should switch to amber.

It means those in the Sunshine State will need to wear masks in healthcare settings, public transport, rideshares and indoors when unable to social distance. 

But while the fun police clamped down, it didn’t stop thousands from crowding both hotly anticipated Gold Coast and Sydney events. 

The Schoolies shindig comes after two years of Covid disruption to the annual Australian passage of rite, known for its wild out-of-control partying and non-stop celebrations.

This year – with most Covid restrictions axed – it is expected to see a return to the heyday of schoolies, despite warnings from some.

The new Covid-19 upsurge in Omicron cases has one expert calling on party-goers to take precautions. 

Griffith University infectious diseases expert Professor Nigel McMillan told the Brisbane Times most of the official events took place in outdoor venues, which minimised the risk of contracting the disease. 

Griffith University infectious diseases expert Professor Nigel McMillan said most of the official Schoolie events took place in outdoor venues, which minimised the risk of contracting the disease (pictured, girls on the Gold Coast)

Griffith University infectious diseases expert Professor Nigel McMillan said most of the official Schoolie events took place in outdoor venues, which minimised the risk of contracting the disease (pictured, girls on the Gold Coast)

House music fans take to the streets ahead at the Harbourlife night spectacular (pictured)

House music fans take to the streets ahead at the Harbourlife night spectacular (pictured)

Crowds getting into the groove on Saturday in the Sydney city celebrations (pictured)

Crowds getting into the groove on Saturday in the Sydney city celebrations (pictured)

A concert goer (pictured) is ready to enjoy the night as the Sydney city party hub takes off

A concert goer (pictured) is ready to enjoy the night as the Sydney city party hub takes off 

House music fans get fired up as the beats take off at the Harbourlife festival (pictured)

House music fans get fired up as the beats take off at the Harbourlife festival (pictured)

School leavers enjoying the fun at the Gold Coast party hub on Saturday (pictured)

School leavers enjoying the fun at the Gold Coast party hub on Saturday (pictured)

Harbourlife fans pace themselves at the Sydney waterside party hub on Saturday

Harbourlife fans pace themselves at the Sydney waterside party hub on Saturday

One reveller looked the part at the dance floor spectacular at the harbourside on Saturday (pictured)

One reveller looked the part at the dance floor spectacular at the harbourside on Saturday (pictured)

Another partially clothed partygoer took to the turnstiles at the hotly anticipated dance party (pictured)

Another partially clothed partygoer took to the turnstiles at the hotly anticipated dance party (pictured)

One attendee sported a red and white combo (pictured) at the harbourside music event

One attendee sported a red and white combo (pictured) at the harbourside music event 

Meanwhile, other party goers had their Ventolin sprays handy (pictured), while others sported chequered-coloured outfits

Meanwhile, other party goers had their Ventolin sprays handy (pictured), while others sported chequered-coloured outfits

Crowds who snapped up the tickets for the sold-out event revelled maskless despite recent Omicron wave fears

Crowds who snapped up the tickets for the sold-out event revelled maskless despite recent Omicron wave fears

A festive goer sporting a green combination heads to where its all happening on Saturday

A festive goer sporting a green combination heads to where its all happening on Saturday

Professor McMillan recommended that festive goers should stick to the outdoor events and encouraged the basics of hand washing and general hygiene. 

Police Minister Mark Ryan said it was important everyone felt safe, as he offered his best to the new graduates. 

‘I urge all young people to look out for their mates, stick together, and check in on one another. Take note of your surroundings and take care while on high-rise balconies,’ he added. 

‘Charge your phones, plan ahead and check in with your loved ones back home.’

Meanwhile, Harbourlife revellers took to the dance floor with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House views wearing an assortment of funky ensembles and skin-tight florescent garb. 

The festivities also take place in other popular spots like the Sunshine Coast, Byron Bay, Fiji and Bali (a school leaver on the Gold Coast on Saturday)

The festivities also take place in other popular spots like the Sunshine Coast, Byron Bay, Fiji and Bali (a school leaver on the Gold Coast on Saturday)

Thousands of schoolies have been descending on a popular party spot, the most since 2018, despite fresh fears over the new Omicron outbreak (pictured, school leavers gearing up on the Gold Coast on Saturday)

Thousands of schoolies have been descending on a popular party spot, the most since 2018, despite fresh fears over the new Omicron outbreak (pictured, school leavers gearing up on the Gold Coast on Saturday)

'I urge all young people to look out for their mates, stick together, and check in on one another,' Police Minister Mark Ryan said (pictured, young school leavers at the Gold Coast on Saturday)

‘I urge all young people to look out for their mates, stick together, and check in on one another,’ Police Minister Mark Ryan said (pictured, young school leavers at the Gold Coast on Saturday)

Most of the official events took place in outdoor venues, which minimised the risk of contracting the disease (pictured, boys getting the essentials)

Most of the official events took place in outdoor venues, which minimised the risk of contracting the disease (pictured, boys getting the essentials)

An estimated 25,000 year 12 students are expected to show up on the Gold Coast (pictured, girls getting the shopping in) at the weekend to kick off the annual three-week celebrations

An estimated 25,000 year 12 students are expected to show up on the Gold Coast (pictured, girls getting the shopping in) at the weekend to kick off the annual three-week celebrations

But some were just happy to hang out with mates in casual gear without having to worry about killjoy Covid restrictions.

The dance party was headlined by British act Hot Since 82, supported by Cassian, Franky Wah, Jaded and Claptone.

Earlier in the afternoon, partygoers enjoyed sets from Stacie Fields, Billy Xane and J. Worra in perfect Sydney Saturday afternoon weather..

The party that ‘kicks off the summer season’ each year was forced to remain closed during the Covid restrictions of 2020 and 2021. 

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Meanwhile, the fourth Covid wave arrived just in time for Christmas raising fears restrictions could return and ruin the festive holiday.

Cases have risen drastically across the country with some states recording an 80 per cent uptick this week as several Covid variants run rampant.

A spectacular waterside party has taken off after a two-year Covid hiatus, as revellers (pictured) lapped up the new found freedoms

A spectacular waterside party has taken off after a two-year Covid hiatus, as revellers (pictured) lapped up the new found freedoms

Attendees in the crowds chatting at the Harbourlife house music party on Saturday

Attendees in the crowds chatting at the Harbourlife house music party on Saturday 

One scantily clad attendee walked in with the throng at the sold-out harbourside event on Saturday (pictured)

One scantily clad attendee walked in with the throng at the sold-out harbourside event on Saturday (pictured)

Concert-goers relished in the new found freedoms of the Sydney harbourside as the city fights a growing Omicron wave

Concert-goers relished in the new found freedoms of the Sydney harbourside as the city fights a growing Omicron wave

Festive goers relished in the party atmosphere heading to new heights on the dance floor (pictured)

Festive goers relished in the party atmosphere heading to new heights on the dance floor (pictured)

BA.5, BA.2.75, XBB, and BQ.1 are among the strains circulating in the community, driving up infections, and evading immunity from vaccinations and past infections.

Some health experts called for restrictions such as face mask mandates to be reintroduced raising concerns more drastic measures like lockdowns could return.

But Deakin University chair of epidemiology Catherin Bennett, one of the loudest voices calling for more restrictions, reckons lockdowns won’t happen.

‘Lockdowns won’t work, they don’t work with Omicron… we would only go back to that if we were absolutely desperate,’ she said.

Festive goers took in the sunshine at the Harbourlife shindig on Saturday

Festive goers took in the sunshine at the Harbourlife shindig on Saturday

The sold out house music event will showcase 'international and local music artists' at the waterfront location that boasts 'the best-located dance floor in the country'

The sold out house music event will showcase ‘international and local music artists’ at the waterfront location that boasts ‘the best-located dance floor in the country’

A man lets loose (pictured) at the party destination that kicks off the summer each year

A man lets loose (pictured) at the party destination that kicks off the summer each year 

The reveller in the red and white ensemble (pictured) quenches her thirst at Saturday's festivities

The reveller in the red and white ensemble (pictured) quenches her thirst at Saturday’s festivities 

Some form of restrictions could still be on the table in WA with chief health officer Andy Robertson suggesting face mask mandates could make a comeback.

‘There are always options we could look at, if for example, we got a variant that was a lot more severe or a lot more people were getting seriously unwell,’ he said.

Cruise ship passengers are one of the latest workers being forced to don masks ‘out of an abundance of caution’, Sky News Australia said.

Carnival Corporation who own major cruise liners, such as P&O Australia, have said travellers will need to mask up on in indoor areas as well as outdoor large gatherings.

Average daily cases as at 15 Nov 2022 state by state

Average daily cases as at 15 Nov 2022 

National 10,799

NSW 3,599

Victoria 2,887

Queensland 1,320 

South Australia 1,166

Northern Territory  43 

Tasmania  328

Western Australia 1,263

ACT  194 

 

Change in average cases compared to previous week (%)

National   + 38.3%

NSW  + 45.7%

Victoria  + 30.5%

Queensland + 74.2% 

South Australia   + 42.3%

Northern Territory  – 10.7%

Tasmania  + 23.5%

Western Australia + 17.6%

ACT  + 19.2%   

Source: health.gov.au 

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