The famous Times Square in New York, where thousands of celebrants usually gather on New Year’s Eve, was almost empty this time due to restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the festive program did take place.
Traditionally, the arrival of the new year 2021 heralded the fall of a crystal ball, which for the first time since 1907 was not watched by a crowd of spectators.
Instead, the process was broadcast live on the Internet and on television.
Stars such as Gloria Gaynor, rapper Pitbull, Anitta, Jennifer Lopez and many others also participated in the New Year’s TV broadcast.
The entrance to Times Square in New York was closed.
Only a small group of invited guests, including paramedics and other professionals on the front lines of the pandemic, were allowed to watch the traditional New Year’s ball fall in the main square of the city.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said everyone else should stay at home and watch the New Year’s celebrations on TV.
Typically, on December 31st, tens of thousands of people fill the neighborhoods around Times Square, standing for hours in the cold, waiting for the crystal ball to slowly sink in the last seconds of the year.
More than 25 thousand New Yorkers have died from coronavirus infection in the past year.
As daily numbers of infections remain disappointing in the United States, bars, restaurants and other crowded places are closing or operating under severe restrictions.
In Las Vegas, Boston, and other cities, holiday fireworks have been canceled. The organizers of the annual First Night Arts Festival in Boston put on a six-hour online music broadcast on New Year’s Eve.
Celebrations were canceled in other cities around the world.
As every year, the sky above the Sydney Opera House lit up with blue and gold lights, but this time the embankments were unusually deserted.
Around the world, the difficult outgoing year was seen off in an atmosphere of restrictions and precautions.
The Beijing TV Tower did not have a traditional light show. Trafalgar Square in London, Red Square in Moscow and Puerta del Sol in Madrid were blocked.
In St. Peter’s Square in Rome, there was no usual crowd of celebrants, the Pope did not hold a festive mass, and the traditional New Year’s jumps into the Tiber were also refused.
Some cities, like Sydney, have decided to launch fireworks over empty streets. Others, like London and Paris, have canceled fireworks altogether. There are curfews in Paris, Rome and Istanbul.
Since last New Year, 82 million people have become infected in the world, more than 1.7 million have died. While vaccines offer hope for positive change, the year ends on a very bleak note.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke about this in her 16th New Year’s address.
“I can say without exaggeration: never in the past 15 years has the outgoing year been so difficult. And we have never looked into 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 have warned that violators will be punished.
However, in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began a year ago, thousands of people gathered in the streets to celebrate the outgoing year.
Traditionally, hundreds of people gathered at the ancient customs building – one of the most popular places to celebrate the New Year. When the clock on the building struck midnight, many launched balloons into the sky, applauded and shouted congratulations.
The police strictly followed the order. Several people were warned to wear masks if they wanted to stay. Overall, however, the celebration took place in a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere.
In Wuhan, there have been practically no cases of infection for several months, and in recent days, vaccination of certain groups of the population has begun.
In North Korea, the virus did not interfere with celebrations. State channels showed masked people gathering in Pyongyang’s main square to watch a concert and fireworks.
Barriers have been set up in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, where the Spaniards usually count the last seconds until midnight, eating a grape for each beat of the clock.