• Murhaf Radi, Europe Editor

Covid pandemic dampens New Year celebrations around the world




New Year celebrations around the world have been muted as many countries struggle to curb new spikes in coronavirus cases.


Fireworks displays and other public gatherings were cancelled from Sydney to New York.



BBC published that festivities were particularly restricted in Europe, amid fears over a more contagious variant of the virus.


France mobilised 100,000 police to break up New Year's Eve parties and enforce a night-time curfew.


More than 1.8 million people have died with the virus across the world since the start of the pandemic a year ago. More than 81 million cases have been reported.


New Year celebrations around the world have been muted as many countries struggle to curb new spikes in coronavirus cases.


Fireworks displays and other public gatherings were cancelled from Sydney to New York.


Festivities were particularly restricted in Europe, amid fears over a more contagious variant of the virus.


France mobilised 100,000 police to break up New Year's Eve parties and enforce a night-time curfew.


More than 1.8 million people have died with the virus across the world since the start of the pandemic a year ago. More than 81 million cases have been reported.


In England - where the new coronavirus variant is spreading fast and more than 40 million people in the worst-affected regions are forced to stay at home - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to follow the rules.


Ireland moved to its highest level of restrictions on Thursday, banning all household visits, closing all non-essential retail and limiting travel to 5km (three miles).


Germany is currently under lockdown until 10 January. The government has banned the sale of fireworks and placed tight restrictions on the number of people who can gather in public.


In what is expected to be her last New Year's Eve address as chancellor as she plans to step down in nine months, Angela Merkel took aim at conspiracy theorists.


Making a rare show of emotion, she said she could only imagine how cynical and cruel their dangerous lies must feel to those who had lost loved ones to the virus.


In Italy,a 22:00 curfew was imposed, and bars, restaurants and most shops were closed. Meanwhile, Pope Francis is not leading New Year's Eve and New Year's Day services in Rome after suffering a recurrence of chronic hip pain.


The Netherlands is also under a lockdown, which is set to last until 19 January. Its usual countdown took place behind closed doors at a football stadium in Amsterdam.


Turkey has begun a four-day-long lockdown.


In China, the annual New Year light show in the capital Beijing was called off. Celebrations were scaled down in cities across the country. But in Wuhan, where the pandemic is thought to have originated, thousands of people gathered in the city centre to celebrate as balloons were released into the air.


Japan cancelled a traditional New Year event at which Emperor Naruhito and other imperial family members were to greet people.


In India, Delhi and several other cities imposed a night curfew and other restrictions to prevent large New Year gatherings.


However in New Zealand, where a strict lockdown and border closures have all but eliminated Covid, New Year celebrations were held as usual.

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