Trafalgar Square New Year’s Eve celebrations cancelled as Omicron Covid cases soar in London

Hospital admissions in London saw a 29% increase at the weekend as Omicron Covid cases continue to rise

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New Year’s Eve celebrations in Trafalgar Square have been cancelled due to the huge surge in Omicron Covid cases in the cases.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said the event, which was set to welcome around 6,500 people, can no longer take place as “we must take the right steps to reduce the spread of the virus”.

Mr Khan declared a major incident in London on Saturday (18 December) after more than 65,500 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the past seven days, while hospital admissions saw a 29% increase.

People are now being asked to watch a live TV broadcast on BBC One and BBC iPlayer which organisers say will celebrate the city and highlight the most defining moments of the past year.

Mr Khan said: “With infections of Covid-19 at record levels across our city and the UK, I’m determined to work closely with partners in our city to do everything we possibly can to slow the spread of the new variant and ensure our NHS services are not overwhelmed this winter.

“This means that we will no longer be hosting a celebration event for 6,500 people on Trafalgar Square this New Year’s Eve.

“This will be very disappointing for many Londoners, but we must take the right steps to reduce the spread of the virus. I’m proud that we will still have an incredible broadcast spectacular to watch on our screens, which will showcase our great city to the rest of the world.

“Our world-renowned retail, hospitality, tourism, nightlife and cultural businesses are already suffering from the impact of the latest wave of Covid cases during what is usually their busiest time of the year.”

The London mayor has now called on the government to provide a package of support for the city’s retail, hospitality, tourism, night-time and cultural businesses that are being badly hit by the impact of the variant.

Cancellations across the world

London is not the only city to see New Year events cancelled as part of efforts to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.

Rio in Brazil has also pulled the plug on its celebrations and the traditional firework display in Paris, France, will not be going ahead as Europe tightens its rules.

German politicians have now banned the sale of fireworks on New Year’s Eve after saying they do not want to risk increasing the burden on its already overwhelmed hospitals with injuries.

Celebrations to ring in the New Year in Times Square in New York also look uncertain due to Omicron cases, with officials now working to increase testing capacity in response to heightened demand.

It is still unclear whether tighter restrictions will be imposed in the UK over the Christmas period, with the people currently only advised to ‘exercise caution’.

The Prime Minister has warned that the government will “reserve the possibility of taking further action”, but it is expected that any further rules will not be put in place until after Christmas, which could scupper New Year’s plans.

A two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown is reportedly being considered for 28 December which would see a ban on household mixing, according to The Times, but this is yet to be confirmed.

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