Canada’s major cities are set to ring in the new year with more bliss than thunder, with many official celebrations canceled or moved online for the second year in a row due to COVID-19.
Across the country, residents are encouraged to listen to live broadcasts of fireworks shows and shows or trade parties for outdoor activities.
New Year’s Eve coincides with a record-breaking daily wave of COVID-19 cases driven by the fast-moving Omicron variant.
Canada’s largest city is trading its tradition of crowding Nathan Phillips Square for an online event. The live broadcast will include pre-recorded performances from popular music venues in Toronto and other locations leading up to the fireworks.
“This year’s program allows Torontonians to enjoy the festivities safely at home, helping protect against the spread of COVID-19,” the city said in a press release.
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While there will be no fireworks at the Square or the CN Tower this year, the city says “high-altitude fireworks displays” will run simultaneously across Toronto’s waterfront and can be seen from anywhere with views of Lake Ontario.
The show will honor frontline workers and will be presented by TV personality Devo Brown from a closed studio set, says the release.
Mississauga, Ontario, is going even further with safety precautions, canceling all events organized at Celebration Square in the evening, including fireworks.
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Judi Rubillos, commissioner for community services, said in a statement that the initial decision to host New Year’s Eve was made when the COVID-19 situation was more stable.
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The event usually attracts large crowds and it is not a good time to gather on such a scale.
“This was a really difficult decision but absolutely necessary to keep our residents safe,” said Rubielos.
However, the rink at the Celebration Square will remain open until 11 p.m., and food trucks will operate on site.
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In British Columbia, a provincial health order prohibits all organized New Year’s Eve parties, while limiting in-person gatherings to family plus 10 visitors or one other household. Everyone 12 years of age and older should be vaccinated to congregate indoors.
Even before the new rules were announced, the Vancouver New Year’s Eve Celebration Association postponed the Concorde fireworks display until next year.
In a statement earlier this month, the association said the Cole Harbor event had seen over 100,000 people in previous years, but the increasing cases had made it difficult to start the planning process in earnest.
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Calgary is pressing ahead with a fireworks display over the Calgary Tower to set a synchronized musical soundtrack broadcast over the radio. Those without a view of the tower are encouraged to listen to the live broadcast offering a blessing from a local Aboriginal elder and countdown to midnight with Mayor Jyoti Gundik.
Quebec is celebrating New Year’s Eve with a new nightly curfew from 10pm to 5am, which will last for an indefinite period of time. Private indoor gatherings are prohibited and restaurants can only serve fast food.
There will be no celebration in the Old Port of Montreal and no fireworks.
“Avoiding gatherings to ensure the safety of our employees and visitors is our priority,” the port says in a tweet on Twitter.
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