Wellington, New Zealand — The capital of New Zealand is Wellington. Goodbye, 2021, and thank you. Allow the year 2022 to usher in a new era of hope. The mood was widespread as people all across the world began to celebrate the start of the new year.
For the second year in a row, New Year’s Eve celebrations were tempered or even cancelled in several areas due to an outbreak of coronavirus infections, this time caused by the extremely contagious Omicron type. However, even before Omicron arrived, many people were relieved to be able to say goodbye to another gruelling year of the pandemic.
So far, at least, the Omicron outbreak has not resulted in the same numbers of hospitalizations and deaths as prior outbreaks — particularly among those who have received vaccinations — providing a ray of hope for the outbreak in 2022.
Because of the location of the international date line, countries in Asia and the Pacific region are among the first to welcome each new year. New Zealand was one of the first countries to usher in 2022, with a low-key lights display projected onto Auckland landmarks, including the Sky Tower and Harbor Bridge, to mark the occasion. This took the place of the regular fireworks display.
While there hasn’t been any widespread community spread of Omicron in New Zealand, officials have warned against large groups of people congregating.
Despite an increase in the number of viral infections, Australia continued with its celebrations. Fireworks from the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House were the highlight of the celebrations, which served as the event’s focal point. Despite the fact that the display continued for around seven minutes, entry to downtown Sydney was restricted to individuals who had reservations at restaurants and hotels in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Australia’s health authorities recorded a record 32,000 new virus cases only hours before the festivities were about to begin, with the majority of them occurring in Sydney. Because of the influx, police expect significantly smaller people than in years prior to the pandemic, when as many as 1 million revellers flocked to Sydney’s central business district.
Celebrations have been outlawed in Tokyo’s glitzy Shibuya entertainment district, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has taken to YouTube to urge people to wear masks and keep party attendance numbers to a bare bare minimum.
Some individuals, on the other hand, appeared to shrug off virus fears by dining and drinking raucously in downtown Tokyo and swarming to shops, celebrating not just the holidays but also a sense of elation at having been released from recent viral restrictions across the country, according to reports.
Across Japan, many people planned to take new year trips to spend time with their families.