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good riddance 2020

New Year's Eve celebrations scaled back, scrapped amid pandemic

The world is ready to finally bid adieu to 2020 on a very different-looking New Year's Eve.

New Year's Eve celebrations have been largely scaled back or scrapped this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous public fireworks celebrations were canceled, including in Hong Kong, Melbourne, and at the River Thames in London, NBC News reports. Various countries have implemented lockdown measures, and the sale of fireworks was also banned in Germany.

However, a variety of smaller or virtual celebrations were set to take place Thursday. In Australia, for example, a fireworks display went forward above the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, although crowds were banned from gathering nearby other than in hospitality venues, CNN reports.

A virtual celebration has also been planned in New York City. The Times Square event "will not be open to the public and there are no public spectator viewing areas," the New York City Police Department said, but a "few hundred" people are expected to gather, including frontline workers who received invitations, The New York Times reports. Additionally, New York City's traditional ball drop will be available to watch online, and there will also be performances from artists including Machine Gun Kelly, NPR reports.

New Year's Eve celebrations weren't dramatically disrupted everywhere, though. According to NBC News, New Zealand saw its "celebrations go on largely as usual." And The New York Times reports that while celebrations in China were mostly limited, Wuhan, the city where COVID-19 was first identified, "went ahead with boisterous festivities."

But officials in the U.S. and other countries have urged the public to stay home and not attend large gatherings on New Year's Eve. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) said Wednesday, per CNN, "If we don't start making smart choices at the start of 2021, we will look a lot and feel a lot more like 2020 than any of us want it to be."