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After a heartbreaking 2020, Asia tiptoes into the New Year

After a heartbreaking 2020, Asia tiptoes into the New Year

As Asia bids farewell to 2020, a tumultuous year that saw the planet rocked by a deadly pandemic, celebrations will be smaller, shorter and quieter amid fears of coronavirus outbreaks.

In Beijing, the capital of the world's most populous country, an annual New Year's light show at the China Central Television Tower scheduled for Thursday through Sunday was suspended.

Beijing's Yonghe Lama Temple, a tourist site, also cut the number of visitors allowed in half since Thursday. Many Chinese tourists stay at home or take shorter domestic trips.

The coronavirus emerged a year ago in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and has since spread globally, infecting more than 82 million people and killing more than 1.7 million.

In Wuhan, where the pandemic is believed to have originated, thousands of people are expected to gather at various popular landmarks in the city center for the countdown to 2021. Some said they were being cautious, but not particularly worried.

"Safety is the priority," said Wang Xuemei, 23, a professor from Wuhan.

"It is okay because these measures are not enforced very strictly," added his friend and colleague Wang Anyu. "You can still go out."

Australia, whose fireworks over the Sydney Opera House are a visual element of the season, has in many places restricted movement, gatherings and even internal borders. Most people are prohibited from coming to central Sydney on Thursday night.

"It has been an incredible year," said Gladys Berejiklian, the prime minister of the state of New South Wales, where Sydney is located. "Hopefully 2021 is easier for everyone."

The weather and COVID-19 are holding back celebrations in Japan, which is canceling events and reducing public services.

The Imperial Household Agency of Japan canceled an annual New Years event scheduled for January 2, in which Emperor Naruhito and other members of the imperial family were required to greet supporters, due to the pandemic.

    Shrines have asked people to stagger visits on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. East Japan Railway Company and Tokyo Metro are canceling additional train services in the Tokyo metropolitan areas from December 31 to January 1. Meanwhile, snow has covered parts of the country, causing about 140 flights to be canceled and other disruptions.

At Marina Bay in central Singapore, there will be no fireworks to celebrate the New Year for the first time since the annual tradition began in 2005. Instead, fireworks will be fired at different locations throughout the Southeast Asian city-state. .

World-famous band BTS will hold an online concert on Thursday night in South Korea, while observers in other parts of the country are watching to see if their northern neighbors hold their annual New Years fireworks display in Pyongyang. .

In other parts of South Korea, the government has closed the beaches of Gangueng, on the east coast of the country, where people often go to see the first sunrise of the New Year. The Bosingak bell-ringing ceremony in Seoul was canceled for the first time since 1953, but can be viewed "virtually" on the city's website.

Many cities on the autonomous island of Taiwan are canceling public attendance at events like fireworks displays and have asked people to watch them online or on television.

But the Taipei city government is allowing in-person attendance at New Year's events, as well as live streaming, including fireworks from outside Taipei 101, once the tallest building in the world.

He's capped attendance at the main viewing venue at 40,000, half of the 80,000 he had originally planned, and attendees are required to register their personal details and wear masks.

New Years celebrations in India are most likely to be muted, as several major states and cities have imposed nightly curfews, restricted large gatherings and closed pubs and restaurants.

New Delhi said it would allow no more than five people to gather in public places, while the financial capital Mumbai and the tech capital Bengaluru limited meetings to four.

However, there were no restrictions in Goa, a small state along the western coast of India known for its big beach parties during Christmas and New Years. The media reported that people came to Goa in droves during the past week.

Vietnam, which has had only 1,456 infections and 35 deaths from the coronavirus disease, decided not to take further action for the New Year. The wearing of masks in public places is still mandatory, but otherwise fireworks shows and parties in major cities will be held without restrictions on the number of attendees.

Nearby Thailand has also refrained from applying additional restrictions, but authorities have urged people not to travel and meet only in small groups.

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