Covid pandemic dampens New Year celebrations

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GBNEWS24 DESK//

Restrictions are being placed on New Year festivities around the world as many countries struggle to curb new spikes in coronavirus cases.

Fireworks displays and other public gatherings have been cancelled from Sydney to New York.

Festivities are being particularly muted in Europe, amid fears over a new more contagious strain of the disease.

France has mobilised 100,000 police to break up New Year’s Eve parties and enforce a night-time curfew.

More than 1.8 million people have died with the virus across the world since the start of the pandemic a year ago. More than 81 million cases have been reported, BBC reports.

In France, the government ordered a visible security presence in urban areas from 20:00 (19:00 GMT) on Thursday, when the curfew began. In Paris half of the metro lines are closed.

France has had two lockdowns and bars, restaurants and cultural attractions will remain shut into the new year.

In his New Year’s address, President Emmanuel Macron tried to address criticism of the slow pace of vaccination in France, vowing to avoid “unjustifiable delays”.

In England – where the new coronavirus strain is spreading fast and 20 million people in the worst-affected regions are forced to stay at home – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to follow the rules.

“That means not meeting up with friends or family indoors, unless they’re in the same household or support bubble, and avoiding large gatherings of any kind,” he said on Wednesday.

London’s streets were quiet during New Year’s Eve after police there warned people to celebrate at home.

Instead of the usual celebrations in front of the London Eye, a giant fireworks and light show was held across various locations in the capital.

Ireland moved to its highest level of restrictions on Thursday, banning all household visits, closing all non-essential retail and limiting travel to 5km (three miles).

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