As the Omicron variant of the coronavirus drives infection rates to record levels in many parts of the world, major cities have scaled down or cancelled New Year’s Eve events for a second consecutive year.
Just a month ago, Covid vaccines made it seem like Dec. 31 celebrations would be back. Now caseloads are rising swiftly, including in Italy, where the 14-day average of new cases is up by 128 percent. Rome, Venice and other cities scrapped their celebrations, banned large outdoor events and closed nightclubs.
In France, where cases are up by 48 percent, Paris canceled the fireworks over the Champs-Élysées and other large public parties. London’s mayor scrapped plans for an event in Trafalgar Square.
Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing revelry, one of the biggest New Year’s celebrations in the world, is canceled again. New Delhi banned gatherings as well.
New York City capped its Times Square celebration to 15,000 people, a quarter of the usual number allowed in designated areas. Which is not really going to help, it’s going to be another super spreader with cases surging in the next few weeks. Some cities, like Berlin and Los Angeles, will be streaming or broadcasting celebrations instead of allowing spectators. The Tournament of Rose’s Parade will be another super spreader. As of press , still not cancelled.
The numbers: Globally, daily cases are up on average by 36 percent over the past two weeks, to levels that surpass or rival previous surge periods. Fears of the Omicron variant’s rapid spread are being tempered by signs of potentially less-severe illness than with earlier variants.