WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Good riddance to 2021. Let 2022 convey recent hope.
That was a typical sentiment as folks around the globe started welcoming within the new yr.
In lots of locations, New 12 months’s Eve celebrations have been muted or canceled for the second straight yr attributable to a surge of coronavirus infections, this time pushed by the extremely contagious omicron variant.
Even earlier than omicron hit, many individuals have been blissful to say goodbye to a second grinding yr of the pandemic.
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However to date, not less than, the omicron surge hasn’t resulted in the identical ranges of hospitalizations and deaths as earlier outbreaks — particularly amongst vaccinated folks — providing a glimmer of hope for 2022.
Australia went forward with its celebrations regardless of an explosion in virus circumstances. Hundreds of fireworks lit up the sky over Sydney’s Harbor Bridge and Opera Home at midnight in a spectacular show.
Hours earlier than the celebrations started, Australian well being authorities reported a file 32,000 new virus circumstances, a lot of them in Sydney. Due to the surge, crowds have been far smaller than in pre-pandemic years, when as many as 1 million revelers would crowd inside Sydney.
Neighboring New Zealand had earlier opted for a extra low-key strategy, changing its fireworks present in Auckland with a lights show projected onto landmarks together with the Sky Tower and Harbor Bridge.
Whereas there hasn’t but been any group unfold of omicron in New Zealand, authorities nonetheless needed to discourage crowds gathering.
Due to the place the worldwide date line sits, nations in Asia and the Pacific area are among the many first to usher in every new yr.
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In Japan, author Naoki Matsuzawa stated he would spend the following few days cooking and delivering meals to the aged as a result of some shops can be closed. He stated vaccinations had made folks much less anxious in regards to the pandemic, regardless of the brand new variant.
“A numbness has set in, and we’re now not overly afraid,” stated Matsuzawa, who lives in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo. “A few of us are beginning to take with no consideration that it received’t occur to me.”
Like many different folks, Matsuzawa hopes that life will enhance in 2022.
“I hope the restrictions can disappear,” he stated.
Throughout Japan, many individuals deliberate to take new yr journeys to spend time with their households. On New 12 months’s Eve, folks thronged temples and shrines, most of them sporting masks.
Some seemed to be shrugging off virus fears, nonetheless, by eating and consuming raucously in downtown Tokyo and flocking to retailers, celebrating not solely the vacations however a way of exhilaration over being free of current virus restrictions.
In South Korea’s capital, Seoul, the annual New 12 months’s Eve bell-ringing ceremony was canceled for the second straight yr attributable to a surge in circumstances.
Officers stated a pre-recorded video of this yr’s bell-ringing ceremony would as a substitute be broadcast on-line and on tv. The ceremony had beforehand drawn tens of hundreds of individuals. Final yr’s cancellation was the primary because the ceremony started in 1953.
South Korean authorities additionally deliberate to shut many seashores and different vacationer points of interest alongside the east coast, which normally swarm with folks hoping to catch the yr’s first dawn. On Friday, South Korea stated it is going to lengthen powerful distancing guidelines for an additional two weeks.
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In India, tens of millions of individuals have been planning to ring within the new yr from their houses, with nighttime curfews and different restrictions taking the fizz out of celebrations in massive cities together with New Delhi and Mumbai.
Authorities have imposed restrictions to maintain revelers away from eating places, resorts, seashores and bars amid a surge in circumstances fueled by omicron.
However some locations, together with Goa, a vacationer paradise, and Hyderabad, an info know-how hub, have been spared from night time curfews due to smaller numbers of infections, though different restrictions nonetheless apply.
Many Indonesians have been additionally forgoing their standard festivities for a quieter night at dwelling, after the federal government banned many New 12 months’s Eve celebrations. In Jakarta, fireworks shows, parades and different massive gatherings have been prohibited, whereas eating places and malls have been allowed to stay open however with curfews imposed.
Vietnam additionally canceled fireworks reveals and celebrations. In Hanoi, authorities closed off central streets, whereas in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, audiences have been banned from watching dwell countdown performances, which as a substitute have been to be proven on social media.
In Hong Kong, about 3,000 folks deliberate to attend a New 12 months’s Eve live performance that includes native celebrities together with boy band Mirror. The live performance would be the first massive New 12 months’s Eve occasion held since 2018, after occasions have been canceled in 2019 attributable to political strife and final yr due to the pandemic.
In mainland China, the Shanghai authorities canceled occasions together with an annual mild present alongside the Huangpu River within the metropolis middle that normally attracts a whole bunch of hundreds of spectators.
There have been no plans for public festivities in Beijing, the place well-liked temples have been closed or had restricted entry since mid-December. The federal government has known as on folks to keep away from leaving the Chinese language capital if doable and requires assessments for vacationers arriving from areas the place there are infections.
Widespread temples within the japanese Chinese language cities of Nanjing, Hangzhou and different main cities canceled conventional New 12 months’s Eve “fortunate bell-ringing” ceremonies and requested the general public to remain away.
However in Thailand, authorities have been permitting New 12 months’s Eve events and fireworks shows to proceed, albeit with strict security measures. They have been hoping to gradual the unfold of the omicron variant whereas additionally softening the blow to the nation’s battered tourism sector. New 12 months’s Eve prayers, that are normally held in Buddhist temples round Thailand, can be held on-line as a substitute.
Within the Philippines, a strong hurricane two weeks in the past worn out fundamental requirements for tens of hundreds of individuals forward of New 12 months’s Eve. Greater than 400 have been killed by Storm Rai and not less than 82 stay lacking. Half 1,000,000 houses have been broken or destroyed.
Leahmer Singson, a 17-year-old mom, misplaced her dwelling to a hearth final month, after which the hurricane blew away her momentary wood shack in Cebu metropolis. She is going to welcome the brand new yr along with her husband, who works in a glass and aluminum manufacturing facility, and her 1-year-old child in a ramshackle tent in a coastal clearing the place a whole bunch of different households erected small tents from particles, rice sacks and tarpaulins to defend themselves from the rain and solar.
Requested what she needs for the brand new yr, Singson had a easy want: “I hope we received’t get sick.”
Related Press reporters 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.