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Fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as New Year celebrations begin in Sydney, Australia, Thursday. — AP

In pictures: Fireworks explode over empty streets as 2020 slinks away into history

With over 1.7 million people dead and 82m infected globally with Covid, this year's end is like none other in memory.
Published 31 Dec, 2020 10:30pm

Blue and gold fireworks soared into the sky above the Sydney Opera House as they do every year, but the harbour below was a ghost town, a fittingly creepy send-off for a year that will not be missed.

No light show will illuminate Beijing from the top of the TV tower. The lions of London's Trafalgar Square will be barricaded off, as will Red Square in Moscow. In Rome, crowds will not assemble in St Peter's Square, the Pope will lead no Mass, and revellers will not make their yearly dive into the Tiber.

The New Year's Eve ball will drop on Broadway. But in place of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers packed shoulder-to-shoulder into Times Square, the audience will be a small pre-selected group of nurses, doctors and other key workers, their families kept six feet apart in socially distanced pens. Good riddance, 2020. Hello, 2021.

With more than 1.7 million people dead and 82 million infected around the globe since last New Year's Eve — yet hope that new vaccines can help tame the pandemic — this year's end is like none other in memory.

Men ride a vehicle on a beach during the last sunset of the year in Karachi on December 31. — AFP
Men ride a vehicle on a beach during the last sunset of the year in Karachi on December 31. — AFP

New Year's Eve fireworks erupt over Sydney's iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House (L) during the fireworks show on January 1, 2021. — AFP/AAP IMAGES FOR NSW GOVERNMENT
New Year's Eve fireworks erupt over Sydney's iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House (L) during the fireworks show on January 1, 2021. — AFP/AAP IMAGES FOR NSW GOVERNMENT

A combination photo shows people attending a ceremony to celebrate the new year on December 31, 2019, (R), and a policeman standing before a zebra crossing on New Year's Eve amid the coronavirus pandemic, in Seoul, South Korea, December 31, 2020 (L). — Reuters
A combination photo shows people attending a ceremony to celebrate the new year on December 31, 2019, (R), and a policeman standing before a zebra crossing on New Year's Eve amid the coronavirus pandemic, in Seoul, South Korea, December 31, 2020 (L). — Reuters

Children hold candles and take part in a demonstration to welcome the new year, in Lahore, Thursday. — AP
Children hold candles and take part in a demonstration to welcome the new year, in Lahore, Thursday. — AP

Indians hold cutouts welcoming 2021 on New Year's Eve in Ahmedabad, India, Thursday. — AP
Indians hold cutouts welcoming 2021 on New Year's Eve in Ahmedabad, India, Thursday. — AP

Residents of the municipality of Genemuiden celebrate the end of 2020 with carbide shooting on December 31, in the Netherlands. — AFP
Residents of the municipality of Genemuiden celebrate the end of 2020 with carbide shooting on December 31, in the Netherlands. — AFP

Women hold light balloons as people gather to celebrate the arrival of the new year during the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, Dec 31. — Reuters
Women hold light balloons as people gather to celebrate the arrival of the new year during the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, Dec 31. — Reuters

A girl stands amid sea waters as the sun sets on New Year's Eve at Clifton Beach in Karachi. — Reuters
A girl stands amid sea waters as the sun sets on New Year's Eve at Clifton Beach in Karachi. — Reuters

Fireworks are launched from the Sky Tower to mark the changing of the year on New Year's Eve in Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday. — AP
Fireworks are launched from the Sky Tower to mark the changing of the year on New Year's Eve in Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday. — AP

The illuminated Napier Bridge is pictured on New Year's Eve in Chennai, India on December 31. — AFP
The illuminated Napier Bridge is pictured on New Year's Eve in Chennai, India on December 31. — AFP

Downtown Jakarta is seen empty on December 31 after police closed main roads in the capital to enforce Covid-19 measures on New Year's Eve. — AFP
Downtown Jakarta is seen empty on December 31 after police closed main roads in the capital to enforce Covid-19 measures on New Year's Eve. — AFP

A man sells balloons as Iraqis gather around the citadel of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, to celebrate the new year on December 31. — AFP
A man sells balloons as Iraqis gather around the citadel of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, to celebrate the new year on December 31. — AFP

A light display is projected from the Marina Bay Sands hotel and resort as part of New Year's Eve celebrations in Singapore on December 31. — AFP
A light display is projected from the Marina Bay Sands hotel and resort as part of New Year's Eve celebrations in Singapore on December 31. — AFP