Thousands head out to ring in new year in England as Covid restrictions leave celebrations muted elsewhere

Partygoers enjoy warmest new year’s eve on record as revellers travel across border to celebrate

Chiara Giordano
Saturday 01 January 2022 08:03 GMT

Thousands of revellers headed out to ring in the new year in England, while Covid restrictions left celebrations more muted elsewhere in the UK.

Partygoers descended on city centres in their droves to enjoy the mildest New Year’s Eve on record, with temperatures hitting more than 15C in some parts.

London’s annual fireworks display was cancelled for the second year running becauee of rising coronavirus cases, but a smaller display with drones was broadcast at midnight near the city’s landmarks.

The BBC broadcast of the event featured Hamilton actor Giles Terera performing a poem by Thomas Roberts reflecting on the country’s recent achievements.

Across England, nightclubs remained open for revellers to celebrate together.

Images showed crowds packed into Covent Garden and Leicester Square in central London from early evening, while groups of friends appeared in good spirits as they headed to bars and clubs in Liverpool and Newcastle.

Prime minister Boris Johnson urged caution as he told those celebrating to take a Covid test and “remember the importance of ventilation”.

But he decided against imposing tougher restrictions, unlike his counterparts in Scotland and Wales, despite record numbers of Covid infections as the Omicron variant continues to spread.

People gather in large numbers in Leicester Square, central London, to celebrate New Year's Eve

As pictures emerged of empty-looking pubs north of the border, so did those of people posing with Scottish flags and suitcases outside Newcastle’s main railway station.

New limits on large public gatherings forced the cancellation of official street parties in Scotland, including the one planned for Edinburgh, as first minister Nicola Sturgeon urged people to stay home.

Nightclubs in Scotland and Wales are not allowed to open, and the rule of six is in place for pubs and restaurants in Wales.

In Scottish pubs, a one-metre distance must be maintained between tables, groups of people meeting are limited to three households, and alcohol must be served at the table.

Friday saw temperatures reaching 15.8C in Merryfield in Somerset and Nantwich in Cheshire, which beat the previous record of 14.8C.

Somerset House in London confirmed it would be closing its ice rink on New Year’s Day due to warmer temperatures.

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