In many countries, traditional holiday celebrations have been canceled due to the pandemic.
As every year, the sky above the Sydney Opera House is lit up with blue and gold lights, but this time the quays are unusually deserted. Around the world, the difficult outgoing year is seen off in an atmosphere of restrictions and precautions.
The TV tower in Beijing did not have a traditional light show. Trafalgar Square in London, Red Square in Moscow, and Puerto del Sol Square in Madrid are closed. In St. Peter’s Square in Rome, there is no usual crowd of celebrants; the Pope does not hold a festive mass, the traditional New Year’s jumps into the Tevere were also abandoned.
Some cities, like Sydney, have decided to launch fireworks over empty streets. Others, like London and Paris, have canceled the fireworks altogether. Curfews are in effect in Paris, Rome, and Istanbul.
In New York, the traditional balloon drop will take place at midnight. Still, instead of the usual crowd of thousands in Times Square, a small group of health workers and employees of other key industries will gather, who will have to observe the social distance strictly.
Since last New Year, 82 million people have been infected worldwide, and more than 1.7 million have died. Although the advent of vaccines offers hope for positive changes, the year ends on a very gloomy note. This was stated in her 16th New Year’s address by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“I can say without exaggeration: never in the last 15 years has the outgoing year been so difficult. And we have never looked at the coming year with such hope, despite all the excitement and some skepticism,” she said.
Germany has banned the sale of fireworks to avoid crowds on the streets. Berlin authorities warn that violators will be punished.
In the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began a year ago, thousands of people will gather on the streets to spend the outgoing year. People are cautious but not particularly worried.
In Australia, where fireworks kick off New Year’s celebrations worldwide, mass events are banned, and external borders are closed. Sydney city center is closed.
In North Korea, the virus did not interfere with festive events. State-run channels show masked people gathering in Pyongyang’s main square to watch a concert and fireworks display.
On Madrid’s Puerto del Sol Square, where Spaniards usually count down the last seconds to midnight, eating a grape for each clock’s stroke, barriers were installed.
In the UK, restrictions have been tightened due to the emergence of a new, more contagious coronavirus strain. Advertising banners throughout the city call for celebrating the New Year at home.
In Italy, bars and restaurants are closed, and a curfew is in effect from 10 pm.
In France, no more than six people can gather at the festive table. The elite gastronomic shop A la Ville de Rodez in Paris offers customers sets of foie gras, truffles, and pates for two or three so that citizens can enjoy delicacies at home without breaking the rules.