Photographs capture Sydney coming back to life after COVID-19 lockdown

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A week after the lockdown restrictions eased for fully vaccinated people in New South Wales, Sydney has started to come to life.

The phased return of dinners, gyms, dance floors, and community worship has seen people congregating in familiar indoor spaces.

Sydney is back.

Faithful reunion

Up to 10,000 people would normally have attended the Gurdwara Sahib Glenwood Sikh temple.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)
a man wearing a turban stands in front of a sikh
YouTube was used by priests to broadcast services.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)

For more than 100 days, priests at Australia’s largest Sikh temple sang and read prayers only to automated cameras broadcasting the service on YouTube.

The Gurdwara Sahib Glenwood would normally pass up to 10,000 temple visitors through their doors.

Masked and practicing social distancing, the double-vaccinated are back.

“I don’t know of anyone who comes to the temple who is not directly or indirectly affected by COVID in India, so emotions are high,” said Jatinder Singh of the Australian Sikh Association.

woman inside car leaning in search of face mask
People start to return to Gurdwara Sahib Glenwood temple.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)
women wearing masks and headwear at the entrance to a temple
Worshipers are concerned about the COVID-19 situation in India. (ABC News: Harriet Tatham)
a woman wearing a mask and head covering kneeling and praying
The faithful can now pray together.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)
people wearing masks praying in a temple
Social distancing and mask wearing are among the COVID-19 security measures in place.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)

Extroverts have their day

an empty outdoor area of ​​a bar with empty tables and chairs
Barangaroo reception areas were hit hard during the lockdown.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)
an empty outdoor area of ​​a bar with empty tables and chairs
Dancing and drinking outside was prohibited during confinement.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)

Sydney’s dance parties have left the lounges and returned to the outdoors, injecting suburbs like Barangaroo with color, movement and disco lights.

Despite pressure on companies to verify vaccination certificates and QR code logins, Bungalow8 licensee Jeremy Fraser says administration is a small price to pay.

“You come into this industry because we love people and we just haven’t seen them, and now is the time when we need other people the most,” Fraser said.

a group of young women and men stand in front of a dancing dj
Getting people back is the main game, says licensee Jeremy Fraser.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)
young man raising hands in couple dancing
Nightlife is back in the halls of Barangaroo.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)
Two young women smiling and dancing
This is when people need each other the most, says Bungalow8 licensee.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)

“The new normal”

inside a restaurant with empty tables and chairs
The Marigold Restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown is one of the oldest restaurants in yum cha.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)
a man holding a tablecloth about to place it on a table
Before the lockdown, hundreds were going for yum cha.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)

Marigold in Sydney’s Chinatown is a Sunday morning institution where hundreds of people come to eat dumplings ordered from carts.

While the restrictions will slowly increase capacity, manager Connie Chung says she misses the days of a full restaurant.

“They keep saying ‘the new normal’ – but I hope the new normal is back to what life was like before COVID,” she said.

diners seated at round tables wait for the food cart to pass
Marigold owner Connie Chung is getting used to the “new normal”.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)
a woman lifts an elevator from a round container of yum cha that sits on top of a cart
The days when the Marigold was full are slowly coming back.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)

Serving the community

empty outdoor restaurant with empty table and chairs
During the lockdown, the Bankstown Sports Club was transformed into a vaccination center.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)
The table place holder is inactive and turned over on a counter
The club delivered nearly 20,000 jabs during confinement.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)

During the lockdown, the Bankstown Sports Club was transformed into a vaccination center for South West Sydney, offering around 20,000 jabs.

Now, with the hub closed, restaurants reopened, and 600 employees reinstated, cautious visitors are returning.

“I think there’s probably still a bit of angst in the coming out community, but there were definitely people in the restaurants, and everyone seemed to be having fun,” said Marketing Manager Diana Pearce. .

a woman and a child are sitting at an outdoor table eating
The diners slowly return to the Bankstown Sports Club.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)
three people are sitting at an outdoor table to eat food
The club has reopened with a capacity of 500 people.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)
a man standing next to a dinner table wearing a mask
People are still a little hesitant to go out, explains the club’s marketing manager.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)

The nonessential necessity

an empty gym with exercise equipment
Gyms have been hit hard during the pandemic.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)
an empty gym with exercise equipment
Many gyms closed for good.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)

Gyms around the world are one of the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. Deemed too risky and non-essential, many have closed their doors for good.

Ashfield gym owners Chris Aslan and Mariam Iskander have used the Sydney lockdown to relocate and modernize their facilities – a place they are adamant should remain open if cases rise again.

“It’s essential for our physical and mental well-being and if we ever go back to a lockdown, they should reconsider that gyms are essential,” Mr. Aslan said.

people in a gym lift weights and stand
The owners of Alpha Athletes in Ashfield took advantage of the lockdown to move to new premises.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)
a man wearing a mask lifting a weight
Gyms are essential for mental health, say the owners of Ashfield Gymnasium.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)
a man carrying a weight wearing a mask inside a gym
Gyms are expected to remain open if the lockdown recurs, say the owners of the Ashfield Alpha Athletes gym.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)


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