The world marked the end of 2020 with enthusiasm, but public celebrations largely muted by the coronavirus pandemic as it continues to rage across the globe. Many cities scaled back events or canceled them entirely as local leaders urged people to celebrate safely.
Times Square was eerily quiet in the hours leading up to the ceremonial New Year’s Eve ball drop as New York City officials closed the area off to most revelers. The NYPD had about 80% fewer officers guarding the area than in previous years, but security was still tight.
“If you come to Times Square, the police department will turn you away and tell you to go home and watch from the safety and comfort of your home,” Times Square Alliance Vice President Tom Harris warned residents on CBS New York before the virtual celebration kicked off.
In Sydney, Australia, one of the first places to ring in the new year, fireworks illuminated the Sydney Harbor Bridge. But in other major cities, including Melbourne and London, local leaders said they had canceled fireworks to discourage people from congregating. London ended up putting on an elaborate laser and light display over the iconic Tower Bridge for people to enjoy at home, but the streets remained quiet.
Countries including France, Italy, Turkey, Latvia, the Czech Republic and Greece implemented nightly curfews.