Fireworks explode over empty streets as 2020 drifts into historical past

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© Reuters. New Years Eve Celebration in Sydney

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(Reuters) – The Sydney Opera (NASDAQ 🙂 House fireworks soared into the sky, but the harbor below was empty as a ghost town, a fittingly creepy farewell for a year not to be missed.

No light show will illuminate Beijing from the top of the television tower. The lions in Trafalgar Square, London, are barricaded. In Rome, no crowds will gather in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope will not hold mass and the night owls will not dive into the Tiber every year.

The New Year’s Eve ball will fall on Broadway. But instead of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers packed shoulder to shoulder in Times Square, the audience will be a small, preselected group of nurses, doctors, and other key workers whose families are in socially distant pens three feet apart.

Good release, 2020. Hello, 2021.

With more than 1.7 million dead and 82 million infected worldwide since New Year’s Eve – and the hope that new vaccines can tame the pandemic – this year’s end is remembered like no other. Angela Merkel said this in her 16th New Year’s Eve speech as German Chancellor.

“I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say: Never in the last 15 years have we found the old year so difficult. And despite all the worries and some skepticism, we have never looked forward to the new with so much hope. “”

“I can only imagine how bitter it must feel for those grieving loved ones who have been lost to corona or are struggling against the effects of disease when the virus is denied and denied by some hopeless people,” said Merkel, 66 who said she would be vaccinated ASAP.

Germany has banned the sale of fireworks to discourage the crowd. The Berlin authorities said the police would “consistently punish violations”.

“HELL OF A YEAR”

In the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began a year ago, thousands should be gathering at popular landmarks across the city center for the countdown to 2021. Some said they were careful but not particularly concerned.

“Safety is a priority,” said Wang Xuemei, 23, a teacher from Wuhan.

Movement has been restricted, gatherings banned and internal borders closed in Australia, where the Sydney Opera House fireworks will be televised as the first major visual representation of the New Year worldwide. Most people were banned from entering downtown Sydney on Thursday evening.

“What a damn good year it was,” said Gladys Berejiklian, Prime Minister of New South Wales, which also includes Sydney. “Hopefully 2021 will be easier for all of us.”

In the UK, where a highly contagious variant of the virus is raging and most people are severely restricted, authorities ran a public messaging campaign on billboards and in the media urging people to “watch the New Year safely at home” .

Barriers have been erected in public places such as London’s Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square.

In Italy, the European country with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths, bars, restaurants and most shops have closed and a curfew has been imposed between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. on New Years Eve.

Pope Francis canceled plans to lead New Year’s and New Year’s services because his sciatica flared up, the Vatican said.

In France, which also has a night curfew, no more than six adults are allowed to gather around the dining table, but there will be celebrations – maybe small, but with style.

At “A la Ville de Rodez”, an upscale Parisian deli, manager Brice Tapon prepared packages of foie gras, truffles and pate for groups of two or three people.

“I’m going to … stuff myself with foie gras, champagne and all that food,” said Annie Chaplin, a customer. “And I’ll stay home.”

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