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How cities around the world are welcoming 2021

Like everything in 2020, this New Year’s Eve will be like no other. The majority of people will be staying at home to see in 2021, with few of the usual celebrations happening. 

In this unprecedented year, we take a look at what cities around the world look like as the clock strikes midnight. 

Auckland, New Zealand

New Zealand is considered to have had one of the best government responses to Covid-19, and the country currently has no community cases of the virus. 

As a result of its low death and case rate, the country has been able to return to relative normality.

In Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, crowds were able to watch as midnight fireworks were launched to wave goodbye to 2020. 

Fireworks are launched from the Sky Tower to mark the changing of the year on New Year’s Eve in Auckland, New Zealand. New Zealand and its South Pacific island neighbours have no COVID-19, and New Year celebrations there are the same as ever.

Sydney, Australia

The traditional fireworks display in Sydney brightened up the sky to bring in 2021, but the event went crowd-free as authorities battle a new spike in Covid infections. 

One million people would usually crowd the Sydney Harbor to watch the annual fireworks that centre on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

But this year authorities advised revellers to watch the fireworks on television as the two most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria battle to curb new Covid outbreaks.

Fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as New Year celebrations begin in Sydney.  (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Seoul, South Korea

A quiet picture is painted of the South Korean capital, where the annual New Year’s Eve bell-ringing ceremony was cancelled for the first time since its inception in 1953. Usually, 100,000 come to celebrate. 

Bangkok, Thailand

Fireworks were let off over the Chao Phraya river in central Bangkok.

In recent days, officials in the Thai capital announced new restrictions, including the closure of some entertainment facilities during the New Year’s holiday, as infections continued to rise following a recent coronavirus outbreak.

After months of seeming to have the Covid-19 situation under control, Thailand has seen two major clusters developing since mid-December that threatened to undo its progress. 

One has mainly infected hundreds of migrant workers from Myanmar at a seafood market near Bangkok, the capital, while in recent days a cluster has grown connected to a gambling den in an eastern province.

New Year’s Eve fireworks erupt over Chao Phraya river during the fireworks show for New Year’s Eve in Bangkok

Hong Kong scaled back celebrations this year. The harbour, pictured, would normally be very busy with light displays and fireworks to celebrate New Year.

People walk at the waterfront of the Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor to celebrate New Year’s Eve

Tokyo, Japan

Much of Japan welcomed 2021 quietly at home, alarmed after Tokyo reported a record daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases, topping 1,000 for the first time.

Many skipped a chance to return to ancestral homes for the holidays, hoping to lessen health risks for extended families.

Emperor Naruhito will deliver a video message for the new year, instead of waving to cheering crowds from a balcony outside the palace.

People pray at Asakusa Shrine on New Year’s Day in Tokyo

Jakarta, Indonesia

Police patrolled the deserted streets in Jakarta as some residents welcomed in the New Year. 

Elsewhere, fireworks lit up the sky, although the government requested residents to stay home due to a rise in coronavirus infections.

Police patrol the deserted streets in Jakarta

Moscow, Russia

Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, announced in November that New Year’s Eve celebrations would be cancelled this year, but fireworks were still set off at midnight behind the Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower, near St Basil’s Cathedral.

Residents were seen gathering behind barriers in Manezhnaya Square, but access to the Red Square was restricted from 6pm.

Fireworks explode behind the Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower near St. Basil’s Cathedral during New Year’s Day celebrations in Moscow, Russia

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai rang in the new year with its usual flair, holding one of its most expensive firework displays yet and allowing thousands of people to gather for the spectacle.

The crowds were under strict instructions to practice social distancing, stood at marked areas while wearing a face mask during the firework show, which saw the Burj Khalifa lit up for almost seven minutes.

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