Australians bid farewell to 2021 with a traditional fireworks display over Sydney Harbor as the good news from South Africa – the first country to speak out after its Omicron wave – brought hope for ‘a happy new year.
Thanks to Omicron, the New Year began its annual rolling east to west quietly – with no official fireworks display in Auckland, New Zealand.
Sydney opened the world celebration in vintage style, with its usual spectacular pyrotechnics reflected in the harbor under the Sydney Opera House.
But there would be no display above many of the world’s traditional landmarks, with fireworks set off over the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Big Ben in London, and the Petronas Towers in Kuala. Lumpur.
The Golden Ball was set to fall in Times Square in New York City, but the crowd shouting the countdown to the year out would be a quarter of their usual size, masked, socially distanced, and with vaccine papers in hand.
Yet South Africa, which first sounded the alarm on the new variant of the fast-spreading coronavirus, gave the world one of the last big good surprises of the year, announcing that the Omicron wave had reached its peak without a huge wave of deaths.
He abruptly lifted a nighttime curfew, allowing celebrations to ring in 2022.
âI’m pretty sure it’s going to be amazing. I just hope Cape Town will once again become the old Cape we all knew, “said Michael Mchede, manager of a Hard Rock cafe near the white sands of Camps Bay Beach in Cape Town, delighted to find himself getting the place. ready to host an unexpected party.
âI’m glad you don’t have to go back to the hotel. You can walk to the beautiful beach from here, and let’s see if that brings a party! â said tourist Jochem Verbunt, who said his hope for 2022 was “for the crown to disappear”.
The sudden arrival of Omicron has resulted in a record number of cases in countries around the world. Although deaths have not risen as quickly, giving hope that the new variant is milder, many countries have reimposed restrictions to prevent health systems from being overwhelmed. Even where gatherings are permitted, many people have chosen to stay in their homes.
At Querida, a restaurant serving grilled octopus and stuffed peppers in Madrid’s Pozuelo neighborhood, only four out of two dozen tables were reserved for New Years Eve.
The place was almost crowded every night just a few weeks ago before Omicron canceled business, said row head Juan Lozano.
âWe all thoughtâ¦ that we would be able to make money and pay a lot of things late,â he said. “The outlook is horribly bad.”
Regional President Isabel Diaz Ayuso has pledged New Year’s celebrations at 60% capacity: âIf Madrid isn’t free, it’s not Madrid,â she said.
In the New Year, revelers will see 12 grapes eaten to the rhythm of the chimes of the bells of the old post office building. About 1,500 people attended a dress rehearsal the day before.
“Now is the time to be together, to mark a new year and to feel that excitement as the bells ring, share chocolates and candies,” said Wendy Garcia, who took her seven-year-old son to the race. on foot to avoid the large crowds. at the main event.
The Times Square celebration in New York, with just 15,000 spectators instead of the usual 55,000, will be another big improvement over the audience of a few dozen last year.
In Los Angeles, the countdown party at Grand Park has been canceled. Rapper LL Cool J had to quit his headlining job on ABC’s New Years TV show after testing positive. – Reuters