Sydney stages dazzling fireworks display as world begins to celebrate 2022

·3-min read

New Zealand and Australia have welcomed in the New Year with a fireworks display in Auckland and Sydney.

Celebrations have kicked off as people around the globe prepare to say goodbye to 2021 which has been plagued by lockdowns and Covid waves.

The Omicron variant threatened to dampen many New Year plans with some European countries opting to impose restrictions to stop cases soaring out of control.

New Zealanders enjoyed a fairly muted light display in Auckland after a small outbreak of Covid threatened to disrupt plans.

In Sydney, locals enjoyed an incredible fireworks display at the city’s harbour. Thousands of people across the world tuned in to watch a live stream of the display on national TV channel ABC.

The country has been relatively successful in controlling Covid-19 with low case numbers and deaths but last week experienced an outbreak of the Omicron variant traced back to a UK traveller.

Authorities identified 88 cases of community transmission of the variant but despite this, restrictions were eased in time for revellers to usher in the New Year.

Partygoers are allowed to dance and gather in bars as long as they show their vaccine passport.

Australia opened the global celebration in vintage style, with its usual spectacular pyrotechnics reflected in the harbour below the Sydney Opera House.

But there will be no displays above many of the world’s traditional landmarks, with fireworks called off over Paris’s Arc de Triomphe and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

The golden ball was due to drop at New York’s Times Square, but the crowd shouting out the countdown of the year’s exit would be a quarter the usual size, masked up, socially distanced and with vaccine papers in hand.

The traditional fireworks display in London has been cancelled by Sadiq Khan after the capital experienced a surge in Omicron cases.

However, people living in England can enjoy New Year’s Eve how they please after Prime Minister Boris Johnson declined to introduce new restrictions.

Despite record high case numbers of Covid, deaths and hospitalisations have stayed low meaning that fresh curbs have been deemed unnecessary.

Revellers will need to show their Covid passes for entry into nightclubs and face masks are still required on public transport and in shops.

It is a different story in Scotland with events limited to 100 people standing indoors.

There is also a one-metre social distancing rule in place in all indoor hospitality and leisure settings.

These restrictions include gatherings for Hogmanay celebrations.

Where alcohol is being served, table service is also required.

In Wales, groups of no more than six are allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants, while licensed premises can offer table service only.

Face masks and contract tracing are in force in pubs with customers being told to observe a two-metre social distancing rule.

Nightclubs have been closed since Boxing Day. A maximum of 30 people can attend indoor events and a maximum of 50 people can be present for outdoor events.

Nightclubs will also be closed in Northern Ireland with dancing also banned in other hospitality venues.

For those venturing out to restaurants, table numbers must be limited to six people and diners must remain seated for table service.

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