This year’s countdown fireworks will be scrapped in an effort to contain the city’s growing COVID-19 outbreak, Hong Kong authorities announced Friday.
“Due to the need to uphold social distancing measures, there will be no fireworks display over Victoria Harbour for this year’s New Year Countdown,” the tourism board said.
Hong Kong has been battered by a fourth wave of the coronavirus since November, forcing yet another round of closures involving the shutting down of schools, bars, nightclubs and cinemas. Authorities have called on the public to avoid social gatherings to reduce the transmission of the disease.
The cancelation of the year-end celebration comes as the city recorded 112 new virus cases, marking the third time in a week that single-day infections have numbered in the triple digits.
Among the new infections, 36 have no known source of transmission. A total of 111 patients have died of virus-related complications since the local outbreak began in January.
This marks the second year in a row that the city’s famed fireworks show has been called off. Last year, the festivities were canceled due to safety concerns amid the anti-government protests. The Chinese New Year fireworks were also scrapped.
The annual pyrotechnics display attracts crowds of revellers to both sides of the Victoria Harbor as fireworks light up the city’s skyline and welcome the new year.
On the last day of 2018, about 340,000 people gathered at spots including the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai and the Cultural Center in Tsim Sha Tsui to watch the HK$14 million (US$1.8 million) show.