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2020 ends with muted celebrations, as world hopes for a better 2021

  1 Janvier      17        Société (27407),


Sydney, Jan. 1, (dpa/GNA) – The world is waving goodbye and good riddance to 2020, as most countries are still gripped by the pandemic and governments cancelled fireworks and told people to stay home to curb infections.
The first countries to enter 2021 on Thursday – Samoa and Kiribati in the South Pacific – have less to celebrate than usual, as they are cut off from the world due to border closures and face rising waters due to climate change.
New Zealand rang in the new year with a number of large music festivals and fireworks shows as well as a light show in the country’s largest city Auckland.
With no community cases of Covid-19 in the country, events went as planned without crowd limits or other health restrictions.
Australia’s most populous city Sydney, on the other hand, was like a ghost town as the clock ticked over from 2020 to 2021.
The harbour fireworks were smaller than in previous years and aimed at a TV audience. Wire fences blocked entry to the foreshore and police stopped anybody from heading towards vantage points, where normally up to a million people watch the world famous fireworks.
New Year’s revellers who breach Sydney harbour lockout laws risk being hit with fines of 1,000 Australian dollars (770 US dollars), as authorities try to stem a Covid-19 outbreak in the city.
In Seoul, the traditional bell-ringing ceremony was performed without an audience and broadcast on TV. Usually, tens of thousands of people watch as a large bronze bell at the Bosingak pavilion is rung 33 times for luck. Outdoor celebrations were also cancelled in other Korean cities.
Taiwan staged its iconic New Year’s Eve fireworks display at the 509-metre tall Taipei 101 building, one of the tallest buildings in the world, while some planned outdoor events around the island were downsized or cancelled.
Some fireworks went ahead in Chinese cities without restrictions, as the pandemic is largely under control there. However, Chinese New Year is traditionally celebrated in February, meaning December 31 is not a particularly important holiday in the country.
Celebrations in India, too, were muted, with restrictions on large gatherings and night curfews in New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai and several states.
While case numbers have fallen in recent months, authorities want to prevent New Year’s parties from becoming superspreader events – and stop more transmissible strains of the virus from taking hold.
A bright display of fireworks celebrated the turn of the year in Dubai, along with a laser show on the world’s tallest building, the 828-metre Burj Khalifa.
The show thanked doctors and others who fought the pandemic, with the words « dedication, » « courage » and « solidarity » emblazoned in light. The 8-minute display had few live spectators, however, as strict restrictions are in place across the city.
Russia’s streets were also quieter than usual. While there was a traditional display of fireworks in Moscow, restrictions meant bars, restaurants and skating rinks all shut before midnight.
Members of the security forces were on hand to prevent large crowds from gathering in the city’s Red Square and Moscow’s mayor urged citizens to stay home and celebrate in small family circles.
In France electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre performed in a virtual concert from a digitally reconstructed Notre-Dame cathedral as police enforced a night-time curfew in Paris.
Jarre played live at a studio in Paris while an avatar of the electronic pop pioneer was placed inside the digital cathedral.
Meanwhile a 25-year-old man died of a heart attack and a 24-year-old sustained face injuries in an incident with fireworks in north-eastern France’s region of Bas-Rhin, news agency AFP reported.
In Berlin the evening started more calmly than in previous years, according to firefighters and police. Firecrackers could be still heard being detonated in many Berlin neighbourhoods, but less than usual.
Emergency services praised residents for largely adhering to the New Year’s Eve measures amid the pandemic, though over 80 people were temporarily detained by police for violating restrictions.
With the traditional fireworks spectacle at Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate cancelled, the area remained largely empty. A live show was broadcast by ZDF from the site with no crowds in attendance.
In Berlin-Buckow, a supermarket went up in flames and partially collapsed. Fireworks appeared to have been stored in part of the building and exploded and flew through the area, according to a fire department spokesman.
A 63-year-old man in Brandenburg lost a hand as he handled illegal firecrackers.
In Leipzig, several army vehicles burned down in what police suspected an act of arson.
In Stuttgart, five authorized demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions with hundreds of participants repeatedly violated those regulations.
Some 21 million Scandinavians in Denmark, Norway and Sweden have also welcomed the New Year amid restrictions. Firework displays went ahead in the skies of Copenhagen as many Danes stood on chairs, tables or sofas just before midnight to jump into the new year as the clock strikes 12, as per tradition.
In Oslo and Helsinki fireworks were cancelled, while in Stockholm fireworks over the Skansen open-air museum were set off, but just for a TV audience.
With a nationwide curfew in place Italy celebrated the end of 2020 mostly digitally, with music stars including Gianna Nannini performing in streaming events instead. The capital Rome also issued a fireworks ban that lasts until January 6.
In Greece, cities outdid themselves with larger firework displays than usual, with Greek media reporting « one of the most spectacular pyrotechnic shows of all time ».
Health officials have urged people across the United States to stay home to celebrate New Year’s Eve, but events will still be taking place that people can watch from home to mark the end of the year.
The iconic ball drop in New York City’s Time Square will take place as usual, but without the throngs of people who usually gather in the square to watch.
Television personalities Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen will also co-host CNN’s New Year’s Eve event live from Times Square, and there will be performances from celebrities like Gloria Gaynor, Snoop Dogg, Patti Labelle, Jimmy Buffett, Kylie Minogue, the Goo Goo Dolls, and Jon Bon Jovi.

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