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Parts of the world have already said “Sayonara!” to 2020 as the US eagerly awaits ringing in the new year.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the globe — no doubt making 2020 one of the worst years on record — here’s how some countries ushered in 2021.
Samoa, Tonga and Kiritimati
The Pacific islands are the first in the world to bid good riddance to 2020. Apia, the capital of Samoa and its largest city, celebrated with music and a giant fireworks display that was livestreamed on its government’s Facebook page.
The new year on the islands began at 5 a.m. Eastern time.
And though it sits right next to Samoa, American Samoa is actually 25 hours behind the island — making it among the last countries to welcome 2021.
Kiwis rang in 2021 with a fireworks show on the Auckland Harbour Bridge — a double celebration of sorts as the country enjoys COVID-free status. Thousands gathered for the five-minute light show, the Evening Standard reported.
The streets of Sydney were empty despite the city’s annual epic fireworks show at Harbour Bridge. City officials implemented strict COVID-19 restrictions in hopes of thwarting crowds — and containing the spread of the virus, news.com.au reported.
Still, photos from the harbor show some people gathering to catch the display — though nothing compared to the throngs of viewers of years past.
Melbourne, Australia’s second-most populous city, nixed its New Year’s fireworks show altogether due to the pandemic.
Next in line to strike midnight was Japan, which also canceled celebration plans, the Mirror in the UK reported.
Provincial Gov. Yuriko Koike instead urged residents to “emphasize life over fun” as Tokyo grapples with a surge of coronavirus infections.
Cases totaled 1,337 in the city on Thursday, exceeding the 1,000 mark for the first time since the start of the global health crisis, Kyodo News said.
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