New Year’s Eve celebrations across the world have been modified – or canceled – as the omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to run rampant.
Officials in the U.K. have warned partygoers in Scotland and Wales to avoid traveling to England to ring in 2022 – though no formal travel ban is in place.
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One in 15 people in London had COVID-19 in the week before Christmas, according to the Office of National Statistics.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on residents to take a rapid coronavirus test before going out and meeting with others or to celebrate outdoors.
Metro reported Friday that some fireworks will go on in London after the annual public display was canceled and that people will be able to watch them on TV only.
In Edinburgh, Scotland, which traditionally hosts one of Europe’s largest New Year’s Eve parties, residents have been urged to stay at home.
Comparatively, Australia went ahead with its festivities, sending thousands of fireworks over Sydney’s Harbor Bridge and Opera House – even as health authorities there reported a record 32,000 new virus cases, with many in the New South Wales city.
Neighboring New Zealand opted to replace its Auckland fireworks show with a lights display projected onto landmarks in an effort to discourage crowds from gathering.
In Japan, mask-clad visitors filled temples and shrines.
In Seoul, South Korea, the annual New Year’s Eve bell-ringing ceremony was canceled due to a surge in cases, but a prerecorded video would be broadcast online and on television.
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Millions of people in India were planning to celebrate from their homes due to nighttime curfews and other restrictions.
The government in Indonesia banned many New Year’s Eve celebrations – including fireworks in Jakarta – and Vietnam canceled fireworks shows and celebrations.
Three-thousand people planned to attend a New Year’s Eve concert in Hong Kong, and Thailand authorities would allow parties and fireworks to continue with strict safety measures.
In mainland China, the Shanghai government canceled an annual lights show, and popular temples in Nanjing, Hangzhou and other major cities canceled the New Year’s Eve “lucky bell-ringing” ceremonies.
While San Francisco canceled its fireworks display, the annual New Year’s Eve celebration in New York City is still a “go,” although officials said the number of people allowed into the area would be limited.
Still, the ball will drop with a crowd of about 15,000 in-person onlookers who are required to show proof of vaccination and wear masks.
New York City’s incoming mayor, Eric Adams, is scheduled to take his oath in Times Square following the ball drop. Rap artist and actor LL Cool J announced he would pull out of the event because he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Widespread infections have plagued New York in December, and state figures showed the Big Apple reported a record number of new confirmed cases on Tuesday.
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. have soared to their highest levels on record, and the omicron-fueled surge is putting children in the hospital in close to record numbers – especially those who are unvaccinated.
During the week of Dec. 21-27, an average of 334 children 17 and under were admitted per day to hospitals with the coronavirus, a 58% increase from the week before, according to CDC data.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.