For awhile there, it appeared we might be able to ring in New Year’s Eve in major cities across the planet with something resembling the huge celebrations of yore.
Another Covid-19 surge and the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus have dashed those hopes – at least in some parts of the world.
In New York City, the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square will be “scaled back,” with fewer revelers and everyone required to wear a mask, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said last week.
But some major cities in Europe, where the spread of Omicron has been startling, have already announced they’re flat-out canceling plans.
Other cities around the world with traditionally iconic celebrations still plan to host their events but with safety precautions in place.
On Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci repeated his warning that people should avoid large New Year’s Eve gatherings and stick with small gatherings of vaccinated family or close friends. Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser.
As of 11 a.m. ET December 31, this what some of the world cities with traditionally huge New Year’s Eve events were doing.
The following cities (or nations) have already announced they’re canceling their big shindigs:
No fireworks show over the Acropolis this year. Health Minister Thanos Plevris said during a news briefing on Thursday, December 23, that all public Christmas and New Year celebrations planned by municipalities are canceled.
All travelers arriving in Greece will be strongly advised to take Covid-19 tests on the second and fourth days after their arrival, on top of the existing requirement to provide a negative test result to enter Greece.
Masks are mandatory again in both indoor and outdoor spaces. For supermarkets and public transport, a double mask or a high protection mask is required.
The measures will last until January 3, when according to Plevris, more restrictions might be put forward concerning sport and entertainment venues.
Georgia’s capital city is canceling the New Year’s Eve Peach Drop at Underground Atlanta because of the rising number of Covid-19 cases, according to a tweet from Underground Atlanta.
“While we are saddened to miss this year’s party and musical acts, we are very excited to bring the Peach Drop back next year and better than ever. Stay healthy everyone!,” the tweet reads.
Germany is imposing strict contact restrictions to curb the spread of Covid starting on December 28 and prohibiting New Year’s Eve gatherings, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Tuesday, December 21.
That means no big fireworks gathering in Berlin, the capital, nor in other big gathering spots such as Munich and Frankfurt.
From December 28, a maximum of 10 people will be allowed to meet in groups, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or recovered, Scholz said. Children 13 and younger are exempt from the new contact restrictions.
Public New Year’s Eve celebrations in Scotland will be canceled, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday, December 21.
In a statement, Sturgeon explained details for post-Christmas restrictions on large events to blunt the spread of Omicron.
Sturgeon said the move will “also mean unfortunately that large-scale Hogmanay celebrations – including that planned here in our capital city – will not proceed. I know how disappointing this will be for those looking forward to these events.”
A planned New Year’s Eve event in London has been canceled over Covid concerns, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted on Monday, December 20.
“Due to the surge in Covid cases, we’ve taken the difficult decision to cancel our NYE event in Trafalgar Square,” said the tweet from Khan’s verified account. “The safety of all Londoners must come first.”
A statement attached to the tweet said the celebration had been expected to host 6,500 people in Trafalgar Square.
Instead, a program will be broadcast at midnight on BBC One, Khan said.
The government of India’s union territory of Delhi, which encompasses the national capital of New Delhi, has announced a ban on all social, cultural, political and festival gatherings until further notice because of a rise in Covid-19 cases, CNN’s New Delhi Bureau reports.
All officials “shall ensure that no cultural events/gatherings/congregations take place for celebrating Christmas or New Year” in the region, according to the Delhi government’s order.
Bars and restaurants will be allowed to operate at only 50% capacity.
Paris has canceled its traditional fireworks display over the Champs-Elysées Avenue to welcome the New Year because of the renewed coronavirus surge.
“The fireworks will not take place, nor unfortunately will there be any DJ sets,” the mayor’s office told AFP in a report on France24.com.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Friday, December 17, that major public parties and fireworks would be banned on New Year’s Eve and recommended that even vaccinated people take a self-test before getting together for year-end parties, according to Reuters.
And wearing a mask will be made mandatory in Paris outdoor public spaces starting Friday, December 31, the Paris police prefecture said Wednesday.
In Italy, Rome is among several cities that have decided to cancel festivities over Covid health concerns.
Large New Year’s Eve celebrations across the country have been canceled, including open air concerts and fireworks in Venice. Nightclubs will be closed for the month of January as well.
The Campania region has also banned feasts and alcohol consumption in public areas from December 23 to January 1.
Events still scheduled
Not all the world’s cities have called off their celebrations. Here are some of the cities traditionally renowned for their exceptional fireworks and big New Year’s Eve events that were still moving forward with their plans as of December 31. Click the links to get details, including pandemic safety measures:
Thailand’s capital will hold its celebrations, but with some some safety caveats. According to the Bangkok Post, only open-air venues are allowed. Attendees must be fully vaccinated, tested within 72 hours and registered to attend.
South Africa’s beautiful seaside city is still allowing NYE events for its residents, according to its tourism website, but with lots of safety checks in place. Those include early venue closings and strict curfews. Find more details of South Africa’s safety measures here.
The third-biggest city in the United States is going forward with its New Year’s Eve show, launching fireworks from five bridges over the Chicago River and two river launch points. The city encourages residents to get tested before attending. Learn more from the City of Chicago.
The pyrotechnics at the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, are still planned, according to VisitDubai.com. The emirate is requiring visitors who want to be at the celebration to register using the U by Emaar app to receive individual QR codes that will allow access.
Hong Kong plans to ring in 2022 with radiant lights along the entire Victoria Harbour waterfront. A countdown clock will be displayed on the facade of the newly opened M+ museum, which is 216 feet (67 meters) tall. Learn more from the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
America’s gambling magnet still plans to launch fireworks from the top of eight hotel-casinos on the Strip for eight minutes, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. A downtown Las Vegas fireworks show will also be held.
The Times Square celebration will go on – but with far fewer in-person participants. It will be limited to 15,000 people and visitors will not be allowed entry into the area until 3 p.m. Friday. Additionally, everyone will be required to wear a mask and show photo identification at the fully outdoor event, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said.
On Thursday, de Blasio attempted to assuage the concerns over emergency services staffing in the city, saying on the Today Show “we have the ability to weather this for sure.” He said there are no plans to further scale back the celebration or to cancel it. Find out more at timessquarenyc.org.
RIO DE JANEIRO
After canceling its New Year’s Eve celebrations earlier this month, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s party capital, reversed course this week.
“We want to celebrate the end of the year in a calm, safe and organized manner. We met with the Scientific Committee, which confirmed that it would be safe to hold the city’s New Year’s celebrations under the provisions presented by the city government,” Mayor Eduardo Paes said. Revelers are encouraged to stay close to their homes to “avoid unnecessary travel.”
Sydney’s famous New Year’s Eve fireworks display is set to continue despite a mounting daily Covid-19 caseload in Australia’s largest city. A total of 11,201 new cases were announced on Wednesday in the state of New South Wales, almost twice the tally of 6,062 from the previous day.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, the organizer of the fireworks display said Covid-19 safety measures would be maintained in public spaces around Sydney Harbour.
“We have six vantage points that are all in outdoor parks, but we are operating those on a one person per two square meters basis,” Stephen Gilby, executive producer of New Year’s Eve celebrations, said.
Find out more at the city of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve website.
The largest city on the island of Taiwan plans on holding its annual countdown show and fireworks at the towering Taipei 101 skyscraper, according to the Taipei Times, Taiwan Scene and other local media.
Canada’s largest city is putting on a very scaled-back affair. High-altitude fireworks will be launched at midnight across Toronto’s waterfront, but people are highly encouraged to watch virtually.
Anyone outdoors with a view is asked to wear a mask and keep 2 meters (6.5 feet) distance from people they don’t live with. There will be no fireworks shows at Nathan Phillips Square or the CN Tower. Find out more from the city of Toronto.
Watch from home
Admittedly, it’s not the same as watching fireworks and big shows in person, but you can catch all the action from the comfort – and safety – of a crowd-controlled home.
CNN’S New Year’s Eve Live show will stream live for subscribers via CNNgo (CNN.com/go and via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, Samsung Smart TV and Android TV) and on CNN mobile apps for iOS and Android.
The special will be available on demand via cable/satellite systems, CNNgo platforms and CNN mobile apps.
CNN’s Virginia Langmaid, Jennifer Henderson, Jeremy Grisham, Barbie Latza Nadeau, Laura Ly, Jason Hanna, Chris Liakos, Berlin Bureau, Lauren Kent, Samantha Beech, Swati Gupta, Duarte Mendonca, Maija Ehlinger, Marcelo Medeiros, Taylor Romine, Eva Tapiero and Angus Watson contributed to this article.