Kamis, 31 Desember 2020

NYE celebrations across the world reflect success in fight against pandemic - ABC News

New Zealanders were amongst the first in the world to celebrate the arrival of much-anticipated 2021 with a fireworks display that erupted from Auckland's 328-metre tall Sky Tower.

Revellers on the waterfront watched the five-minute show with brightly coloured fireworks and laser lighting shooting into the night sky over the city's harbour.

Crowds were allowed to gather in the city to mark the occasion as the nation continued to record a low number of new coronavirus cases.

It will be one of the few places in the world to have greeted the new year in relatively normal fashion as 2020 draws to a close.

No light show will illuminate Beijing from the top of the TV tower. The lions of London's Trafalgar Square will be barricaded off. In Rome, crowds will not assemble in St Peter's Square, the Pope will lead no mass, and revellers will not make their yearly dive into the Tiber.


The New Year's Eve ball will drop on Broadway. But in place of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers packed shoulder-to-shoulder into Times Square, the audience will be a small pre-selected group of nurses, doctors and other key workers, their families kept six feet apart in socially distanced pens.

A man sets up a fence in front of the Brandburg Gate.
The area around the Brandenburg Gate is usually the main place for New Year's celebrations in Berlin.(AP: Markus Schreiber)

With more than 1.7 million people dead and 82 million infected around the globe since last New Year's Eve — yet hope that new vaccines can help tame the pandemic — this year's end is like none other in memory. Angela Merkel, in her 16th New Year's Eve address as German chancellor, said as much.

"And never have we, despite all the worries and some scepticism, looked forward to the new one with so much hope.

"I can only imagine how bitter it must feel for those mourning loved ones lost to corona or who are having to fight against the repercussions of an illness when the virus is disputed and denied by some hopeless individuals," said Ms Merkel, who added she would get vaccinated as soon as practicable.

Germany has banned the sale of fireworks to discourage crowds. Authorities in Berlin said police would "punish violators consistently".

Chinese President highlights success in fight against pandemic

In the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic originated a year ago, thousands were expected to gather at popular landmarks across the city centre for the countdown to 2021.

Some said they were being cautious, but weren't particularly worried.

"Safety is the priority," Wuhan resident Wang Xuemei said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping used his new year speech to underscore China's victory against the coronavirus pandemic and to mark its major progress in developing its economy.

"In the face of the sudden coronavirus pandemic … we wrote the epic of anti-pandemic with concerted efforts and perseverance," Mr Xi said in his annual televised comments on New Year's Eve.

At the end of his speech, Mr Xi called for increased international cooperation in fighting the virus.

Much of Japan was welcoming 2021 quietly at home, alarmed after Tokyo reported a record number of daily coronavirus cases. It was the first time that daily cases in the capital have topped 1,000.

In South Korea, Seoul's city government cancelled its annual New Year's Eve bell-ringing ceremony in the Jongno neighborhood for the first time since the event was first held in 1953, months after the end of the Korean War.

The ceremony, in which citizens ring a large bell in a traditional pavilion when the clock strikes midnight, normally draws an estimated 100,000 people and is broadcast live.

Hard-hit Europe spending NYE at home

One of Trafalgar Square's famous lion statues can be seen behind a temporary metal barrier.
Barriers were erected in London's famous Trafalgar Square to dissuade people from coming to celebrate NYE.(AP: Dominic Lipinsk)

In Britain, where a highly contagious variant of the virus is rampaging and most people are under strict restrictions, authorities ran a public messaging campaign on billboards and in the media urging people to "see in the New Year safely at home".

Barriers were erected in public places such as London's Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square.

In Italy, the European country which has seen most COVID-19 deaths, bars, restaurants and most shops were closed, and a curfew in place for New Year's Eve between 10:00pm and 7:00am.

Pope Francis cancelled plans to lead New Year's Eve and New Year's Day services because of a flare-up of his sciatica condition, the Vatican said.

In France, where a night curfew will also be in force, no more than six adults will be allowed to gather around the dinner table, but there will be celebrations — small, perhaps, but with style.

At A la Ville de Rodez, an upmarket Parisian delicatessen, manager Brice Tapon was preparing packages of foie gras, truffles and pate for groups of two or three.

"I will… stuff myself with foie gras, champagne and all this food," said Annie Chaplin, a customer. "And I'll stay home."


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2020-12-31 14:35:00Z

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