World sees in the New Year despite Covid restrictions as party spirit overcomes Omicron concerns

Billions from around the world are starting to show up in 2022 after last year’s silent festivities, despite Omicron’s concerns about putting moisturizer on the bustle.

While some parties in major cities have been canceled due to a spike in infections, South Africa, where the mutated strain was first discovered, has lifted a curfew to allow year-end parties to proceed.

New Zealand, the first major country to see the new year, started festivities after easing its rules on public gatherings, and staged a light show in Auckland.

Australia’s largest city, Sydney, has also decided to go ahead with a fireworks display that will light up the city’s harbour, despite one of the fastest growing cases in the world.

The “Family Fireworks” was held three hours before midnight, as fireworks lit the Sydney Opera House in a spectacular display.

But just hours before the festivities were due to begin, Australian health authorities reported 32,000 new cases of the virus, many of them in Sydney.

New Zealand: A light show from the Skytower and Harbor Bridge in Auckland begins New Year’s Eve celebrations in New Zealand

Australia: "family fireworks", shown three hours before midnight each year before the main show at midnight fill the sky above the Sydney Opera House

Australia: ‘Family Fireworks’, shown three hours before midnight each year before the main show at midnight, fills the sky above the Sydney Opera House

China: In Beijing, a child wearing a face mask stands in front of a 2022 banner as countries around the world celebrate the New Year

China: In Beijing, a child wearing a face mask stands in front of a 2022 banner as countries around the world celebrate the New Year

New Zealand: The Skytower lit up as the clock ticked at midnight in serene festivities in New Zealand, the first major country to see 2022

New Zealand: The Skytower lit up as the clock ticked at midnight in serene festivities in New Zealand, the first major country to see 2022

Australia: The Sydney Harbor Bridge is lit up with a spectacular fireworks display to start the festivities before midnight.

Australia: The Sydney Harbor Bridge is lit up with a spectacular fireworks display to start the festivities before midnight.

Australia: Authorities expect much smaller crowds than in the pre-pandemic years, when up to a million revelers flocked inside Sydney

Australia: Authorities expect much smaller crowds than in the pre-pandemic years, when up to a million revelers flocked inside Sydney

Australia: Despite an increase in infections in Australia, many are still going to party and listen to live music in Sydney on Friday.

Australia: Despite an increase in infections in Australia, many are still going to party and listen to live music in Sydney on Friday.

South Korea: A woman walks past decorations for New Year's Eve celebrations in Seoul with countries preparing to ring in 2022

South Korea: A woman walks past decorations for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Seoul with countries preparing to ring in 2022

NEW YORK: The Waterford Crystal installation is lit up during a test run in Times Square ahead of the festivities

NEW YORK: The Waterford Crystal installation is lit up during a test run in Times Square ahead of the festivities

Kosovo: The decorations in downtown Pristina have already been put in place for the New Year celebrations after the end of a turbulent year

Kosovo: The decorations in downtown Pristina have already been put in place for the New Year celebrations after the end of a turbulent year

Because of the sudden increase, authorities were expecting much smaller crowds than in the pre-pandemic years, when up to a million revelers thronged inside Sydney.

Dubai plans to set up a fireworks scene at Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, while the northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah will attempt to break two world records with a massive fireworks display.

In Rio, the festivities at Copacabana Beach will kick off in a reduced fashion — although crowds of revelers can still be expected.

In the South Korean capital, Seoul, the New Year’s Eve bell-ringing ceremony was canceled for the second year in a row due to an increase in the number of cases.

Instead, officials said, a pre-recorded video of this year’s bell-ringing ceremony will be broadcast online and on television. The event had previously attracted tens of thousands of people. Last year’s cancellation was the first since the celebration began in 1953.

South Korean authorities also planned to close several beaches and other tourist attractions along the east coast, which are usually bustling with people hoping to witness the first sunrise in the new year. South Korea said on Friday it would extend strict social distancing rules for another two weeks.

Thailand: The faithful lie in coffins during the Resurrection Celebration to cleanse themselves of bad karma at the end of the year

Thailand: The faithful lie in coffins during the Resurrection Celebration to cleanse themselves of bad karma at the end of the year

Australia: Police watch as people gather in front of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, ahead of New Year's Eve fireworks.

Australia: Police watch as people gather in front of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, ahead of New Year’s Eve fireworks.

China: Kindergarten children carry the Chinese character

China: Kindergarten children carry the Chinese character “fu”, which means “good luck”, to welcome the new year during a day of silent celebrations

In India, millions of people were planning to call away from their homes in the new year, with nighttime curfews and other restrictions nullifying festivities 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 fueled by Omicron.

But some places, including Goa, the tourist paradise, and Hyderabad, the IT hub, have escaped the nighttime curfew thanks to lower numbers of infections, although other restrictions remain in place.

In Hong Kong, about 3,000 people planned a New Year’s Eve party featuring local celebrities including boy band Mirror. The ceremony will be the first major New Year’s Eve event to be held since 2018, after events were canceled in 2019 due to political strife and last year due to the pandemic.

Australia: Melbourne party-goers hit the city despite a surge in new Covid-19 infections as many decide to join in the New Year festivities

Australia: Melbourne party-goers hit the city despite a surge in new Covid-19 infections as many decide to join in the New Year festivities

India: A kit maker flies a kite ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations on the outskirts of Amritsar in India's Punjab state

India: A kit maker flies a kite ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations on the outskirts of Amritsar in India’s Punjab state

In China, the Shanghai government has canceled events including an annual light show along the Huangpu River in the city center that usually attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators.

There were no plans for public celebrations in Beijing, where folk temples have been closed or access has been limited since mid-December. The government has called on people to avoid leaving the Chinese capital if possible, and is requiring checks for travelers coming from infected areas.

Folk temples in Nanjing, Hangzhou and other major cities in eastern China have canceled “lucky bell” ceremonies on New Year’s Eve and asked the public to stay away.

But in Thailand, authorities have allowed New Year’s Eve parties and fireworks displays to continue, albeit with strict security measures.

They hoped to slow the spread of the omicron variant while softening the blow on the country’s troubled tourism sector. New Year’s Eve prayers, which are usually held at Buddhist temples around Thailand, will be held online instead.

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