The news that Sydney's New Year's Eve fireworks display will go ahead - albeit under different rules - may have come too late for the Wollongong celebrations.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said he had been "very surprised" to hear NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announce on Thursday that the Sydney Harbour event would go ahead.
The Premier warned that it would be consistent with public health orders and would be vastly different to previous years, but also said that the fireworks would serve as "a symbol of hope to our nation and the world that 2021 will be a different year to 2020".
Cr Bradbery said Wollongong residents should not get their hopes up, as there was "no clarity around the situation" and it was not clear how the government would deal with crowd management and social distancing in Sydney.
"In some respects, this feels like mixed messaging," he said. "I'm not anticipating that the world will be a safer place on the 31st of December, and until there is a vaccine, such events are very questionable."
He said it would be interesting in the coming weeks to see what the state government did in terms of crowd management for the NYE fireworks.
"There might be a fireworks display with no-one there," he said. "Perhaps it might be just televised or something like that, or there might be small exclusive gatherings."
While Cr Bradbery said Wollongong council staff were seeking more information from the government, he said the above arrangements were not likely to work for Wollongong's family-friendly, community-focused event.
"It's always been a community event and an opportunity for the community to come together, and in the light of COVID-19, these events are just off the agenda," he said.
He also said three months was a short time frame for the council to begin planning such a large event.
"We're currently looking at the issues surrounding Australia Day, which is the end of January, and we've basically written off fireworks for that and we're trying to work out the best way to mark the day," he said.
"Normally the planning for these sorts of things would take at least six months, and unless the state government sees the health orders very differently, I can't see it happening."
This will be the second NYE in Wollongong without fireworks, after they were cancelled at the last minute due to the bushfire crisis last year. Cr Bradbery acknowledged that it was a difficult time in the history of the city.
"Who would have anticipated that we would have this circumstance" he said.
"At the start of the year, we thought we'd be through the COVID crisis by now, but really the only thing that will really break this problem is the vaccine."