A sequence of images shows the stark contrast between strangely deserted streets at midnight and when they were filled with New Year’s revelers a year ago.
London’s normally bustling Trafalgar Square stood empty as the clock struck midnight with officials erecting barriers to keep rule breakers away.
The images also illustrate the disparity between the traditional Scottish Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh this year compared to previous ones, showing how the Covid-19 lockdown has greatly affected the city.
Meanwhile, an ambulance and press photographers were seen waiting in the otherwise vacant street opposite the London Eye, with an image from 2019 showing hordes of people waiting to take photos of the fireworks at the same location.
Sadiq Khan has confirmed that the traditional fireworks display will not be held in September, saying “we cannot afford” to have large numbers of people gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, millions of locked-in Britons watched the London light show to usher in the New Year from home, with a pre-recorded display using drones to depict images such as the NHS logo and Captain Sir Tom Moore .
Revelers arriving to celebrate New Years at The Mall in central London in 2019 (pictured left), in stark contrast to the empty street seen last night (right). Trafalgar Square, normally busy in London, was also empty at midnight
Contrasting images showing the traditional Scottish Hogmanay in previous years (pictured left) and at midnight, showing the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown in Edinburgh. Hogmanay celebrations have moved online
The exhibit also featured an excerpt from a poem written by New Zealand-born Tomos Robertson – called Tom Foolery – titled The Great Realization.
As fireworks lit the sky, one narrator read, “In 2020 a new virus has come our way. We knew what to do and thus help us hide.
“Old habits have disappeared and they have given way to new ones. And every simple act of kindness was now given.
Seconds later, a bird appeared in the sky – in reference to the Nightingale Hospitals building – after a clip from a news broadcast said: ‘The buildings were lit in blue, the color of the NHS’.
Towards the end of the show, the shape of a turtle appeared in the sky as Sir David Attenborough said: “Happy New Year. Our planet is unique. A world alive with diversity and wonder. It is also fragile.
“With a new year comes the opportunity for change. And if we act, in 2021 we can make all the difference. “
Fireworks were also spotted over Tower Bridge in the capital.
Although many watch the light show from their homes, some Londoners seemed to be trying their luck earlier in the evening with crowds gathered at Piccadilly Circus and Westminster Bridge.
Under Level 4 rules, only two people from different households can meet outside, but police have been seen talking to crowds of at least five.
Earlier in the evening, fireworks lit the sky over Newcastle in an incredible spectacle watched by thousands from their windows.
Broad Street in Birmingham pictured last year, compared to midnight. Leeds, Birmingham and Cardiff saw nearly empty streets as Covid-aware residents stayed inside
An ambulance and press photographers were seen waiting in the otherwise vacant street opposite the London Eye (right), with an image from 2019 showing hordes of people waiting to take photos of the fireworks at the same location ( to the left)
Hogmanay’s celebrations have been moved online, with Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier warning people to celebrate “responsibly and within restrictions.”
She added, “To be clear, and I take no pleasure in saying this, that means no gatherings, no house parties, no first foot. Instead, we should bring 2021 into our own homes with just our own households. “
Blackpool – another traditional New Years Eve hot spot – has also been abandoned by the rule-abiding citizens who have stayed at home.
Leeds, Birmingham and Cardiff also saw near empty streets as Covid-aware residents stayed inside.
Meanwhile at Primrose Hill, revelers gathered outside in their household groups to watch the backyard fireworks burst across the city skyline.
Unlike the rest of the UK, the people of the Isles of Scilly were pictured sipping a New Years Eve drink at the only three pubs in England that were open last night.
The islands’ population of 2,000 is the only part of England still at level 1, with all other parts of the country having moved to levels 3 or 4.
What are the different rules for each level?
Level one is the default and measurements will not be allowed to become more relaxed in any part of England:
- The rule of six and social distancing applies to indoor and outdoor gatherings;
- Pubs and restaurants are allowed to open only with table service and a closing time of 11pm.
People from separate households cannot meet indoors and the rule of six applies outdoors;
- People from separate households cannot meet indoors and the rule of six applies outdoors;
- Pubs must close unless they function as restaurants, with alcoholic drinks served alongside meals;
All level two rules apply to Level three as well as the following:
- Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, theaters and bowling alleys must close;
- Pubs, restaurants and cafes must close except for take-out;
- Shops, hairdressers and salons are allowed to remain open;
- Groups of six are allowed to meet outdoors only;
- People should avoid traveling outside or within level three zones unless it is unavoidable.
All of the above applies to Level four as well as the following:
- Residents of level 4 zones cannot meet people outside their home at Christmas;
- People should not meet another person socially or engage in activities with someone outside of their home;
- People can exercise or meet in an outdoor public place with people they live with, their supportive bubble or with another person;
- Non-essential stores are to close, while supermarkets, pharmacies and garden centers will remain open;
- A “stay at home” order, with some exceptions, including moving, travel to work or for education and family responsibilities.