In some countries 2021 has already started, the rest of the world will follow in the next few hours. While New Year’s Eve was celebrated as usual in almost corona-free New Zealand, New Year’s Eve looks different than usual in many regions.
Billions of people welcome the New Year tonight – but under Corona conditions. In parts of the world, 2021 has already begun: The residents of the South Sea islands of Samoa and Kiribati were the first to greet the New Year at 11 a.m. Central European Time (CET).
Although there are said to have not yet been any corona infections in Kiribati and the first case was only reported in Samoa in mid-November, public fireworks were canceled. Foreign tourists are currently not allowed to visit the islands in the South Pacific. Both countries are also concerned about the new year due to global climate change. Storms have caused flooding in Samoa’s capital, Apia. The 3000 islands that make up Kiribati are struggling with flooding due to rising water levels in the Pacific.
Major events in New Zealand
On the other hand, New Zealand welcomed the New Year with a number of major music festivals and fireworks shows. In contrast to many other countries, the island state has not recorded any local corona cases for more than a month. Therefore, the events could take place without restrictions on the number of visitors or other corona-related restrictions.
In the country’s largest city, Auckland, there was a light show around Harbor Bridge and Sky Tower, followed by a five-minute fireworks display at midnight. One of the biggest New Year’s Eve events is the three-day music festival Rhythm and Vines, which takes place near the city of Gisborne in the northeast of the North Island.
Fireworks in Sydney – without spectators
At 2 p.m. CET, Sydney started the new year – with colorful fireworks at the famous opera house. This time spectators were not allowed at the port of the Australian metropolis because of the corona pandemic. The area around the harbor was cordoned off and popular parks were closed. From outside, only those who had a reservation in a restaurant or were one of five permitted guests of a local resident were allowed into central Sydney.
The authorities had previously announced that they would punish anyone who tried to break the barriers to the port area with a fine of 1000 Australian dollars (about 626 euros). That apparently worked: Sydney was like a ghost town the closer the New Year approached, observers said.
The world-famous fireworks were smaller and, with a duration of seven minutes, much shorter than usual. Usually the spectacle attracts more than a million people every year. In the second largest Australian city Melbourne, the fireworks were canceled this year.
New Year’s Eve was also celebrated quietly in Japan this year. Because of a new record number of new corona infections in Tokyo, Governor Yuriko Koike called on residents to spend the New Year with the family and stay at home.
Corona restrictions in many countries
Because of the corona pandemic, many parties and fireworks were canceled worldwide, for example in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Amsterdam and London. This time, the citizens of Seoul had to forego the usual street parties at the turn of the year. The traditional chiming ceremony that the South Korean capital normally uses to ring in the New Year was recorded without an audience and broadcast on television and social media. The usual major New Year celebrations have also been canceled in other cities in South Korea.
In much of India there are night curfews and exit restrictions. Hotels and bars in New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai had to close at 11 p.m. In Mumbai, drones tracked whether the ban on large crowds was being observed. Many partying went to Goa, popular with backpackers, where there was no night curfew due to the low number of infections.
In Moscow, despite the Corona curfew, there should be a large fireworks display at the Kremlin from 11 p.m. local time (9 p.m. CET). In New York, the “Ball Drop” in Times Square, a falling, shining crystal ball on a pole, is said to take place in front of a few people instead of the usual thousands. In Paris, there is also a curfew at night on New Year’s Eve. But there is an online concert by Jean-Michel Jarre as an avatar in the virtual backdrop of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and a pre-recorded donation livestream with star DJ David Guetta in front of the Louvre pyramid.
There are also strong exit restrictions in Italy. Between 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and 7 a.m. on New Year’s morning, the 60 million citizens are even banned from going out with just a few exceptions. The government has banned parties. A maximum of two adult guests from another household are allowed to sit at the table for New Year’s Eve dinner. Stricter exit rules also apply in Turkey.
Party in Wuhan
However, the almost corona-free Taiwan traditionally plans pyrotechnics at the “Taipei 101” skyscraper. In the United Arab Emirates, the tallest building in the world, the 828-meter-high Burj Khalifa in Dubai, is once again planning a spectacular fireworks display, including a light and laser show.
Events are also planned in China, where the really big celebrations are not held until the Chinese New Year in February. Among other things, there should be fireworks in Wuhan – the location of the coronavirus outbreak.
It takes a total of 26 hours (11 a.m. CET on December 31 to 1 p.m. CET on January 1) for the whole globe to slide into the New Year. Last up are the uninhabited islets of Baker Island and Howland Island – again in the Pacific.