From Sydney to Shanghai and New York to Paris, the world ushered in 2022 with New Year celebrations that were largely overshadowed by pandemic concerns — even as uncertainty looms and the omicron variant continues to drive up infections globally.
Australia and New Zealand were among the first to ring in the new year, followed by countries in Asia, Europe and North America.
Under the cloud of Covid-19, the world ushers in New Year’s Day.
Fireworks are seen over the Sydney harbor during New Year celebrations on Jan. 1, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. New Year’s Eve celebrations continue to be somewhat different as some Covid-19 restrictions remain in place due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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Spectacular fireworks exploded over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as Australia welcomed 2022. Queues were already forming at many vantage points since early morning on Dec. 31, according to Reuters. Local media reported that the country’s most populous state New South Wales recorded 22,577 new Covid cases and four deaths, as the number of patients in intensive care increased.
The Waka Hourua sails underneath a light show from the Skytower and Harbour Bridge during Auckland New Year’s Eve celebrations on Jan. 1, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. The light show named “Auckland Is Calling” replaces the normal fireworks due to government Covid-19 restrictions.
Dave Rowland | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images for Auckland Unlimited
In New Zealand, restrictions on public gatherings in Auckland were eased on Dec. 30 at 11:59 pm local time, ahead of New Year’s day. The traditional fireworks were canceled due to fears of revelers gathering. Instead, there was a light show over Auckland Harbour Bridge, the Sky Tower and the Auckland War Memorial Museum from 9 p.m. to midnight local time.
It comes as Covid-19 infections around the world surpass 287 million, and deaths top 5.4 million globally, according to data by Johns Hopkins University. Just two days earlier, the World Health Organization warned of a “tsunami of cases” as omicron and delta circulate at the same time.
Revelers celebrate New Year’s Eve in Times Square on Dec. 31, 2021 in New York City. Despite a surge in Covid-19 cases New Year’s Eve happened as planed but with only 15,000 vaccinated participants allowed, who were also required to be masked at all times.
Alexi Rosenfeld | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
Celebrations took place in New York City on New Year’s Eve, although they were scaled down and the vaccinated crowd had to observe social distancing rules and wear masks. On-site spectators of about 15,000 people were allowed to gather in Times Square to witness the annual ball drop and welcome 2022.
Covid cases in the city and around the country may have hit record highs, but former New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told NBC on Thursday before he left office: “We want to show that we’re moving forward, and we want to show the world that New York City is fighting our way through this.”
Preparation for the New Year’s Eve Ball by installation of panels with new Waterford crystals named Gift of Wisdom on top of One Times Square. Side by side panels with 2021 crystals on the left (not replaced yet) and new 2022 crystals on the right.
Lev Radin | Pacific Press | LightRocket via Getty Images
People hold balloons to form the number “2022” at Xintiandi shopping on New Year’s Eve on Dec. 31, 2021 in Shanghai, China as the world prepared to welcome the new year.
VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images
From Nanjing to Wuhan, Chinese cities canceled New Year’s Eve celebrations in a bid to stem the spread of infections, according to the South China Morning Post.
China continues to battle Covid-19 with its “zero tolerance” policy, and ended 2021 with the highest weekly Covid cases since taming the original epidemic about two years ago, according to Reuters.
The total number of local symptomatic cases in the mainland this past week reached 1,151, after 175 new community infections with clinical symptoms were reported for Dec. 31, the news agency said citing statistics from the National Health Commission.
People gather to watch a firework display to celebrate the new year on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on Jan. 1, 2022.
Kim Won Jin | AFP | Getty Images
A couple kisses on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris early on Jan. 1, 2022 as crowds gather to ring in the new year.
Martin Bureau | AFP | Getty Images
Fireworks light up the sky as part of New Year celebrations at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, Spain on Dec. 31, 2021.
Juan Carlos Rojas Rodriguez | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
People celebrate New Year at Krakus Mound in Krakow, Poland on Jan. 1, 2022.
Beata Zawrzel | NurPhoto | Getty Images