COVID-19 cancels 2021 New Year celebrations in Africa, other continents
Billions of people across the world began ushering in the Christian New Year on Thursday, but this year the holiday is being celebrated like no other, with restrictions over the coronavirus pandemic limiting crowds.
After a harsh year that has seen at least 1.7 million people die from COVID-19, fresh waves of infection have sparked renewed lockdowns and forced people in predominantly Christian nations to extend their 2020 tradition of watching events from home.
From Africa to Europe, and from the Asia-Pacific to the Americas, firework displays, pyre burnings and live performances will be watched online or on television.
The fears of such a New Year hangover are widespread, and there are ominous signs that new strains of the virus may make the coming months even tougher.
In Japan, some people skipped what's customarily a chance to return to ancestral homes for the holidays, hoping to lessen health risks for extended families amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Restrictions dampen New Year festivities in Africa
Africans are bracing to welcome 2021 amid restrictions and cautions by the government to observe social distancing norms and abide by curfew restrictions.
In Kenya, people have taken to social media to express their disappointment after the police directed people to celebrate the arrival of New Year from their home.
Uganda has also banned religious gatherings and New Year celebrations.
The Rwandan government has also confirmed that there will be no display of fireworks in the capital Kigali. Earlier the Marriott Hotel had been permitted to display the fireworks but the decision was later rescinded.
Other East African countries have followed suit and enforced lockdowns and curfews during the New Year festivities as more dangerous strains of COVID-19 emerge posing a danger for their citizens.
Across Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, New Year's Eve is usually marked by millions of Christians gathering in churches and praying for a better year ahead.
But this year, the all-night celebrations have been widely canceled because of Covid -- and many worshippers, desperate to turn the page on 2020, say they feel a void.
In several states across southern Nigeria, government-imposed Covid-19 restrictions mean that "crossover," a key day in the calendar for Nigeria’s estimated 86 million Christians, will not happen this time.