31 December 2020 22:37
Fireworks have lit up the sky over London at New Year's Eve for the last 21 years, attracting huge crowds to watch the show which is also streamed live around the world. But in a year that has been like no other, with celebrations cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the way Londoners will welcome the New Year has changed too. The mayor said: "New Year's Eve is traditionally an opportunity to show off our great city to the rest of the world. Sunny Jouhal, General Manager at London Eye, said: "With the London Eye's annual New Year's Eve fireworks show not going ahead this year we wanted to create a unique and virtual way to celebrate the start of 2021, whilst recognising those moments in 2020 that made an impact on our lives. Restrictions in Wales and Northern Ireland are also strict, meaning people have been asked not to gather and celebrate the New Year at home.
With more than 1.7 million people dead and 82 million infected around the globe since last New Year's Eve - yet hope emerging that new vaccines can help tame the pandemic - the year ended unlike any other in memory. Angela Merkel, in her 16th New Year's Eve address as German chancellor, said as much: "I think I am not exaggerating when I say: never in the last 15 years have we found the old year so heavy. Jose Angel Balsa, a 61-year-old retiree, said he would spend the evening "with family, just the four of us at home, holding lots of video calls and hoping for this to end as soon as possible." New Year's Eve was celebrated like no other, with pandemic restrictions limiting crowds in Beijing and other major cities in China. Ng Han Guan/Associated Press For much of China it looked set to be a subdued New Year's Eve, as the customary light shows, fireworks and temple festivals were suspended or canceled as officials focused on controlling a smattering of small new outbreaks of the coronavirus, most notably in the capital Beijing and the northern city of Shenyang. Matthew Abbott for The New York Times Elsewhere in Asia and the Pacific: The small Pacific island nation of Samoa became one of the first places in the world to welcome the new year, 19 hours ahead of the Eastern United States.
Restaurants and bars were ordered to close at 11 p.m. Mr. Putin — in an attempt at a gift to the people after a long year — had called on Russia's regional governors to make Thursday a day off work, which they quickly did. For 23 years, his New Year's Eve tradition in the southernmost city of the continental United States has drawn thousands of people from around the world who flock to see this tourist town's version of New York City's ball drop: a drag queen named Sushi, who descends from an eight-foot red stiletto at the stroke of midnight. The first New Year's Eve event featuring him as Sushi took place in 1997 and included unfriendly visits by the police and a city commissioner in her bathrobe, who was dragged out of bed to determine what the fuss was about. NOAA The only way to celebrate New Year's safely this year may well be to gather outside — masked, and at a safe distance from other people. Large parts of the East Coast can expect rain both on Thursday and Friday, and in the Pacific Northwest, the Cascades will see snow on New Year's Eve. The weather forecast for some major cities is not looking too promising, either.