Revellers in Asia-Pacific countries throng to New Year's parties after Covid hiatus

Many countries are ushering in the first new year without restrictions


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Published: Sat 31 Dec 2022, 5:53 PM

Last updated: Sat 31 Dec 2022, 5:55 PM

With countdowns and fireworks, revellers in major city centers across the Asia-Pacific region were ushering in the first new year without Covid-19 restrictions since the pandemic began.

While Covid-19 continues to cause death and dismay, particularly in China, which is battling a nationwide surge in infections after suddenly easing anti-epidemic measures, countries had largely lifted quarantine requirements, restrictions for visitors and relentless testing that had limited travel and places people can go to.

Celebrations are being held at the Great Wall in Beijing, while in Shanghai authorities said traffic will be stopped along the waterfront Bund to allow pedestrians to gather on New Year’s Eve. Shanghai Disneyland will also hold a special fireworks show to welcome 2023.

On the last day of the year marked by the brutal war in Ukraine, many in the country returned to capital Kyiv to spend New Year’s Eve with their loved ones. As Russia attacks continue to target power supplies leaving millions without electricity, no big celebrations are expected and a curfew will be in place as the clock rings in the new year. But for most Ukrainians being together with their families is already a luxury.

More than 1 million are expected to crowd along Sydney’s waterfront for a multi-million dollar celebration based around the themes of diversity and inclusion.

Organizers have said a rainbow waterfall will be a prominent feature of the New Year’s Eve party. More than 7,000 fireworks will be launched from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and a further 2,000 from the nearby Opera House.

It is the “party Sydney deserves,” the city’s producer of major events and festivals Stephen Gilby told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“We have had a couple of fairly difficult years; we’re absolutely delighted this year to be able to welcome people back to the foreshores of Sydney Harbor for Sydney’s world-famous New Year’s Eve celebrations,” he said.

In Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, organisers have arranged for a family-friendly fireworks display along the Yarra River as dusk falls before a second session at midnight.

The Pacific nation of Kiribati was the first country to greet the new year, with the clock ticking into 2023 one hour ahead of neighbours including New Zealand.

In Auckland, large crowds gathered below the Sky Tower, for a 10-second countdown to midnight preceded a fireworks display.

The celebrations in New Zealand’s largest city were well-received after Covid-19 forced them to be cancelled a year ago.


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