That is the common sentiment as people around the world begin to welcome the new year.
In many places, New Year’s Eve celebrations have been muted or canceled for the second year in a row due to a surge in coronavirus infections, this time due to the highly contagious omicron variant.
Even before omicron hit, many were excited to say goodbye to a second year of the pandemic.
But for now, at least, the increase in omicrons has not led to the same hospitalizations and deaths as previous outbreaks – especially among vaccinated people – offering a glimmer of hope for the year ahead. 2022.
New Zealand was one of the first to celebrate the new year with low-light displays projected onto Auckland landmarks, including the Sky Tower and Harbor Bridge. That has replaced the traditional fireworks display. Although there have not been any communities that have spread omicrons in New Zealand, authorities still want to discourage mass gatherings.
However, neighboring Australia continued to celebrate despite the outbreak of virus cases. Several fireworks are set off in the early evening to give young children a preview of the heart of the festival, the famous fireworks display from the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House.
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Hours before the celebrations began, Australian health authorities reported a record 32,000 cases of the new virus, many of them in Sydney. Due to the increase, crowds have been much less than in pre-pandemic years, when up to 1 million revelers gathered inside Sydney.
Because of the location of the international date line, countries in Asia and the Pacific region are among the first to open up each new year.
In Japan, writer Naoki Matsuzawa said he will spend the next few days cooking and delivering food to the elderly because some shops will be closed. He said vaccination has made people less worried about the pandemic, despite the new variant.
Matsuzawa, who lives in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo, said: “The numbness has hit us and we’re not too scared anymore.” “Some of us are starting to assume that’s not going to happen to me.”
Like many others, Matsuzawa hopes that life will improve in 2022.
“I hope the restrictions can go away,” he said.
Across Japan, many people have planned to take New Year’s trips to spend time with family. On New Year’s Eve, people gather at temples, most of them wearing masks.
However, some people seem to have avoided the fear of the virus, by eating and drinking boisterously in downtown Tokyo and flocking to the shops, not only to celebrate the holiday but also feel the spirit. glad to be liberated from recent virus restrictions.
In the South Korean capital Seoul, the annual New Year’s Eve bell-ringing ceremony was canceled for the second year in a row due to a spike in the number of cases.
Officials said a pre-recorded video of this year’s bell-ringing ceremony will be broadcast online and on television. The previous ceremony had attracted tens of thousands of people. Last year’s cancellation was the first since the ceremony began in 1953.
South Korean authorities have also planned to close many beaches and tourist attractions along the east coast, which are usually crowded with people hoping to catch the first sunrise of the year. On Friday, South Korea said it would extend tough distancing regulations for another two weeks.
In India, millions of people have planned to welcome the new year from their homes, with nighttime curfews and other restrictive regulations that have eliminated celebrations in major cities including New Delhi and Mumbai.
Authorities have imposed restrictions to keep revelers away from restaurants, hotels, beaches and bars amid a surge in cases provided by omicron.
But some places, including Goa, a tourist paradise, and Hyderabad, an information technology hub, have been spared the nighttime curfew thanks to a lower number of infections, although other restrictions remain is applied.
Many Indonesians have also abandoned their usual festivals for a quieter evening at home, after the government banned many New Year’s Eve celebrations. In Jakarta, fireworks, parades and other mass gatherings are banned, while restaurants and shopping malls are allowed to stay open but under a curfew.
Vietnam also canceled fireworks and celebrations. In Hanoi, authorities closed the central streets, while in Ho Chi Minh City, spectators were banned from watching live countdown performances but instead watched social TV shows.
In Hong Kong, around 3,000 people were scheduled to attend a New Year’s Eve concert featuring local celebrities, including boy band Mirror. The concert will be the first major New Year’s Eve event to be held since 2018, after events were canceled in 2019 due to political conflicts and last year because of the pandemic.
In mainland China, the Shanghai government has canceled events including an annual light show along the Huangpu River in the city center that normally attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators.
There are no plans for public festivals in Beijing, where popular temples have been closed or restricted since mid-December. The government has urged people to avoid leaving the Chinese capital if may and may require testing for travelers from endemic areas.
Famous temples in the cities of Nanjing, Hangzhou and other major Chinese cities canceled their New Year’s Eve “ringing bells for good luck” rituals and asked the public to stay away.
But in Thailand, authorities still allow New Year’s Eve parties and fireworks to continue, despite strict safety measures. They hope to slow the spread of the omicron variant while also softening the blow to the country’s battered tourism sector. Instead, New Year’s Eve vigils normally held at Buddhist temples across Thailand will be held online.
In the Philippines, a powerful storm two weeks ago wiped out essentials for tens of thousands of people ahead of the new year. More than 400 people were killed by Typhoon Rai and at least 82 people are still missing. Half a million homes were damaged or destroyed.
Leahmer Singson, a 17-year-old mother, lost her home in a fire last month, and then the storm blew away her wooden makeshift tent in Cebu City. She will celebrate the New Year with her husband, who works in an aluminum and glass factory, and their 1-year-old child in a ramshackle shack on an empty beachside site, where hundreds of other families make small tents out of rubble and sacks. rice and tarpaulin. to protect against rain.
When asked what she wants for the new year, Singson has a simple wish: “I hope we don’t get sick.”
Associated Press correspondent Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo; Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea; Ashok Sharma in New Delhi; Niniek Karmini and Edna Tarigan in Jakarta, Indonesia; Hau Dinh in Hanoi, Vietnam; Zen Soo in Hong Kong; Tassanee Vejpongsa in Bangkok; Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines; and AP researcher Chen Si in Shanghai contributed to this report.
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https://abc13.com/new-years-eve-around-the-world-auckland-zealand/11409978/ Cities around the world start ringing in 2022, starting in Auckland, New Zealand