Japan’s emperor prays for victims in New Year message
Japan’s Emperor Naruhito offered prayers for those who died during the pandemic, taking to video for the second straight year for his New Year’s greeting, having canceled public palace gatherings to curb coronavirus infections.
Sitting before a bonsai tree with his wife Masako, Naruhito praised and thanked doctors and other health care workers, and expressed concern for countries lacking access to vaccines and adequate hospital systems.
“By treasuring more than ever the connections among people, sharing our pain and supporting each other, I hope from the bottom of my heart that we will overcome these hard times,” he said.
Limited revelers return to Times Square to usher in 2022
New York City readied to embrace the new year — and bid good riddance to another pandemic-marred 12 months — as it revived its annual New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, after forgoing a public event last year.
It did so as an uneasy nation tried to muster optimism that the worst days of the pandemic are now behind it — even as public health officials cautioned against unbridled celebrations amid surging Covid-19 infections from the Omicron variant.
The year marched across the globe, time zone by time zone, and thousands of New Year’s revelers stood shoulder to shoulder in a slight chill to await the festivities.
Europe ushers new year with reduced celebrations
Europe welcomed the New Year under reimposed restrictions against the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
As large-scale outdoor events with participants could not take place across Europe, residents had to do with watching live performances and firework shows on television.
For a second straight year, celebrations in Germany’s Brandenburg Gate, a symbolic location where more than 100,000 people gather annually to mark the end of the year, were not held.
Uganda reopens economy after two-year lockdown
Uganda’s president opened up the country’s economy from its Covid-19 lockdown in place since early 2020.
In a public address from his country home in Rwakitura, roughly 190 kilometers (118 miles) west of the capital Kampala, Yoweri Museveni said that though the coronavirus has yet to be wiped out, the government found new solutions of getting it under control, including mass vaccination.
Lifting a ban on public transport, Museveni announced that schools would open on January 10. “Performing artists, bars, discos, cinema halls are to open up two weeks after the opening of the schools,” he added.
Museveni said curfew measures would also be lifted after schools reopen, adding, however, that some measures could be revised if cases rise steadily.