China and New Zealand are largely without new corona infections – and have already celebrated New Year’s Eve without restrictions. Many countries, on the other hand, are preparing for a quiet evening with sometimes strict rules.
Farewell to the Corona year 2020 should be easy for many people, even if the celebrations around the world are very different. While New Year’s Eve celebrations are only possible to a very limited extent in most countries, celebrations in New Zealand were similar to those every year.
Music festivals and fireworks shows took place without restrictions on the number of visitors or other corona restrictions. The country has not had any local corona cases for more than a month. In 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.
China: Celebrate without restrictions
Because, according to official information, there are hardly any infections in China, the new year has also begun in the People’s Republic without major restrictions. At midnight, fireworks were set off in some cities – including Wuhan, the city of the first corona outbreak. However, New Year’s Eve is not a particularly important holiday in China. According to the traditional lunar calendar, the new year doesn’t start until February.
The usual fireworks display also took place next to the tall Taipei 101 skyscraper in neighboring Taiwan, which has reported only seven deaths and 700 confirmed infections since the pandemic began.
Fireworks in Sydney – without spectators
A different picture emerged in Sydney, Australia, which ushered in the year 2021 ten hours before Central Europe. Instead of the usual big New Year’s Eve party at the harbor, there was only a seven-minute show this year – almost without an audience.
Usually the spectacle attracts more than a million people each year. This year 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.
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
Many countries can look forward to a similarly calm end to the year. Because of the corona pandemic, many parties and fireworks had been canceled, for example in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Amsterdam and London. In metropolises like Berlin, Rome and Istanbul, the police control the existing exit restrictions and bans with large contingents.
In Italy, for example, there are severe exit restrictions. 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.
There is also a curfew in Paris. 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.
In New York, the traditional “ball drop” in Times Square, a falling, glowing crystal ball on a pole, is said to take place in front of a few people instead of the usual thousands.
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 are the uninhabited islands of Baker Island and Howland Island.