Despite the fact that numerous events have been cancelled as the Omicron Covid strain continues to spread, London has welcomed the new year with fireworks.
The public was advised to avoid the displays in the UK capital, which included a succession of fireworks and drone exhibitions broadcast from a number of locations.
Due to regulations in Scotland, Hogmanay celebrations were cancelled.
But, for the first time in nearly four years, Big Ben’s bongs reappeared at the start of the new year.
Since 2017, the clock in the Elizabeth Tower of the Palace of Westminster has been undergoing restoration, which has resulted in the landmark’s exterior being covered in scaffolding and the bell being hushed.
While throngs traditionally assemble on the banks and bridges of the River Thames to witness the New Year’s Eve fireworks display, this year’s event was cancelled owing to fears of the coronavirus, albeit some people still gathered in the capital.
Instead, smaller light and drone shows, as well as traditional fireworks, were staged at several points throughout the capital, including the Shard, Millennium Bridge, and St Paul’s Cathedral.
The celebrations in Wales were equally subdued because the number of people who could gather in bars and restaurants was limited due to Alert Level Two restrictions.
Nightclubs have also been shut down, with indoor gatherings limited to 30 persons and outdoor gatherings at 50.
Because nightclubs are closed owing to Covid laws, and dancing is prohibited in other hospitality locations, the night was said to be quiet in Belfast.
The smaller-scale celebrations took place against a backdrop of 189,846 new Covid cases reported in the UK in the previous 24-hour period, a new high.
New Year’s Eve in the UK was also the warmest ever, with a high of 15.8°C (60.4°F) in Merryfield, Somerset, beating the previous high of 14.8°C (58.6°F) at Colwyn Bay, north Wales, in 2011.
The NHS Confederation’s chief executive, Matthew Taylor, expressed his wish that everyone had a good time on New Year’s Eve, but added that it was critical that people continue to do everything they could to restrict the spread of the coronavirus.
“I hope people had a good time last night and are looking forward to the new year,” he told BBC Breakfast. “But remember, NHS staff worked through the night in these very difficult circumstances last night; they are coming for two years of working under this pressure, and it is critical that we do not become complacent.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, in his new year’s address, urged the public not to “despair” over climate change, saying there were “genuine reasons to hope in 2022.”
In his New Year’s greeting, the Prince of Wales praised the “brave individuals, local communities, and international organisations” that are “responding to significant needs by offering crucial help.”