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Home Covid-19 World prepares for muted New Year's Eve under Covid shadow | Coronavirus

World prepares for muted New Year’s Eve under Covid shadow | Coronavirus


#Millions of people around the world are preparing for a #New #Year’s #Eve like no other – with lockdowns, restrictions and curfews in place in dozens of countries in an attempt to stem the spread of #Covid-19 before vaccination drives start to take effect.

#New #Year’s #Eve marks one year since the #World #Health #Organization first mentioned a mysterious pneumonia in #China later identified as #Covid-19, which went on in 2020 to kill more than 1.79 million people and devastate the global economy in unprecedented ways.

#But international efforts helped develop vaccines in record time, and following #Pfizer-BioNTech and #Moderna, the candidate developed by #Oxford and drug firm #AstraZeneca has become the third to win approval in the western world.

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#In the UK, which reported 981 deaths on #Wednesday amid a surge related to a new #Covid variant, people planning to celebrate #New #Year’s #Eve have been warned they must leave the parties for later in 2021 as “Covid loves a crowd”.

#On #Wednesday, when 50,023 new cases were recorded, the government announced tighter restrictions. #Prof #Stephen #Powis, NHS #England’s national medical director, said staying at home and seeing in 2021 “within the rules” would reduce infections and relieve pressure on hospitals.

#He told a #Downing #Street press conference: “We know it’s the end of the year, it’s a time where people traditionally want to celebrate. #But it’s absolutely vital that this year, everybody continues to follow the guidance by staying at home and not mixing.”

#Powis added: “We can all play a part in fighting this terrible virus: stay at home, mark the new year with just nearest and dearest within the rules.

“This action will reduce infections, relieve pressures on hospitals, and that’s how everybody can help to save a life. #Covid loves a crowd, so please leave the parties for later in the year.”

The prime minister, #Boris #Johnson, also urged people to follow the rules and “see in the new year safely at home”.

#France has announced it will deploy 100,000 police and gendarmes to clamp down on parties, gatherings and the traditional torching of vehicles on 31 #December.

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The interior minister Gérald #Darmanin said the officers would also be strictly enforcing the national 8pm to 6am curfew as part of what he described as a “fight against unauthorised public gatherings and the phenomenon of urban violence”.

#Police operations are to be concentrated in city centres and “sensitive” neighbourhoods. The number of police and gendarmes is the same as last year. #Darmanin has also asked local chiefs of police to impose bans on the sale of fuel or alcohol in containers.

#An empty #Sydney #Harbour foreshore. #Sydneysiders were asked to stay home and watch the fireworks on television this year #Photograph: #Mick #Tsikas / AAP

#In #Germany, which is under partial lockdown, #Angela #Merkel said in her last new year’s address as chancellor that 2020 was by far the most difficult of her 15-year leadership, yet the start of vaccinations against #Covid-19 made 2021 a year of hope.

#In a rare show of emotion, #Merkel, who steered #Germany and the #European #Union through the 2008 financial crisis, the #Greek debt crisis a year later and the migrant crisis five years ago, condemned a protest movement opposed to lockdowns and said she would get vaccinated when the shot became widely available.

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“I think I am not exaggerating when I say: never in the last 15 years have we found the old year so heavy and never have we, despite all the worries and some scepticism, looked forward to the new one with so much hope.”

#Her message will resonate with most people in a country struggling with a rise in coronavirus infections and deaths, and where a majority support lockdown measures and vaccination as the best weapons against the virus.

#Praise for #Merkel, a trained physicist whose management of the pandemic has been guided by scientific advice, for having tamed the first wave has however turned to criticism of her perceived failure to tackle the second.

“I can only imagine how bitter it must feel for those mourning loved ones lost to corona or who are having to fight against the repercussions of an illness when the virus is disputed and denied by some hopeless individuals,” #Merkel said.

“Conspiracy theories are not only false and dangerous, they are also cynical and cruel,” she added. “I will also get vaccinated when my turn comes.”

The health minister #Jens #Spahn said he expected the country to have the “quietest #New #Year’s #Eve” in living memory.

#Elsewhere around the world authorities urged the public to ring in the new year at home.

#While the crystal-encrusted #New #Year’s #Eve ball will drop in #Times #Square at midnight on 31 #December, its descent will be greeted by empty streets due to #Covid-19, rather than hundreds of thousands of revellers. #New #York #City authorities have announced that #Times #Square will not be open to the public. #Those wishing to attend can stream online or watch on television.

A vendor’s mannequin in Times Square
A vendor’s mannequin in #Times #Square #Photograph: #Milo #Hess/ZUMA #Wire/REX/Shutterstock

#This dramatic shift is not unique to #Manhattan. US cities are changing how they ring in 2021 as #Covid-19 cases and deaths surge nationwide. The most recent #Johns #Hopkins #University data reports 19,448,626 US cases and 336,947 deaths.

#Even major cities in #Taiwan have scaled back #New #Year’s #Eve events and are telling people to watch fireworks and other festivities at home, after the island’s first case of the highly infectious coronavirus variant originally discovered in #Britain.

#Taiwan has kept the pandemic well under control thanks to early and effective prevention measures, including quarantines for every arrival from abroad, with 800 confirmed cases, including seven deaths, almost all imported. #But the government been unnerved by its first domestic transmission since #April, confirmed this month, and first case of the #British variant, announced on #Wednesday. #Both people are in isolation in hospital.

The cities of #Kaohsiung, #Tainan, #Taichung, #Taoyuan, #Chiayi and #Keelung all said late on #Wednesday they would cancel public attendance at events like fireworks displays, and have asked people to watch at home online and on television.

#In #Australia’s biggest city, #Sydney, where a coronavirus outbreak has been growing daily, people have been asked to stay home and avoid the famous harbourside midnight fireworks display. #Restrictions have also been introduced in the southern state of #Victoria.

#But in #New #Zealand, which has managed to eliminate coronavirus after a strict seven-week lockdown, #New #Year’s #Eve plans were proceeding as usual.



[ source link ]
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/31/world-prepares-for-muted-new-years-eve-under-covid-shadow

##World #prepares #muted ##Years ##Eve ##Covid #shadow ##Coronavirus

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