Cities cancel official New Year’s Eve festivities

Major Canadian cities are poised to ring in the New Year with a ringing softer than a clanging clang, with many official celebrations canceled or moved online for the second year in a row due to COVID-19.

Across the country, residents are encouraged to tune in to live broadcasts for shows and fireworks shows or commercial parties for outdoor activities.

New Year’s Eve coincides with a wave of daily record-setting COVID-19 cases fueled by the fast-moving Omicron variant.

Canada’s largest city is trading its tradition of cramming Nathan Phillips Square for an online event. The live broadcast will feature pre-recorded performances of iconic Toronto music venues and other venues leading up to the fireworks.

“This year’s program allows Toronto residents to safely enjoy the holidays at home, helping to protect against the spread of COVID-19,” the city says in a press release.

While there will be no fireworks in the plaza or CN Tower this year, the city says “high-altitude fireworks displays” will launch simultaneously along Toronto’s waterfront and can be viewed from anywhere with views of Lake Ontario.

The show will honor frontline workers and will be hosted by television personality Devo Brown from a closed studio, the statement said.

The city of Mississauga in Ontario goes the extra mile with its safety precautions, canceling all events organized in Celebration Square at night, including fireworks.

The initial decision to host New Year’s Eve was made when the COVID-19 situation was much more stable, Community Services Commissioner Jodi Robillos said in a statement.

Usually the event draws large crowds and this is not the time to gather on that scale.

The end of the year parties were canceled and moved to the Internet in cities of #Canada. #NewYear # Covid19 #OmicronVariant

“This was a really difficult decision to make, but absolutely necessary to keep our residents safe,” Robillos said.

The skating rink at Celebration Square will remain open until 11 p.m., however, and food trucks will operate on-site.

In British Columbia, a provincial health order bans all organized New Year’s Eve parties, while limiting personal gatherings to one home plus 10 visitors or another home. All people over 12 years of age must be vaccinated to gather indoors.

Even before the new rules were announced, the Vancouver New Years Celebration Society postponed the Concord fireworks display until next year.

The event showcased in Coal Harbor has seen more than 100,000 people in previous years, but the surge in cases made it difficult to start the planning process in earnest, the society said in a statement earlier this month.

Calgary moves forward with a fireworks display over the Calgary Tower with a synchronized music soundtrack broadcast over the radio. Those who do not see the tower are encouraged to tune in to a live broadcast with a blessing from a local indigenous elder and a countdown to midnight with Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

Quebec celebrates New Year’s Eve with a new nighttime curfew from 10 pm to 5 am, which will continue for an indefinite period of time. Indoor private gatherings are prohibited and restaurants can only offer takeout.

There will be no celebration in the Old Port of Montreal, no fireworks.

“Avoiding meetings to ensure the safety of our employees and visitors is our priority,” the port says in a tweet.

This Canadian Press report was first published on December 31, 2021.

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