Fireworks explode around the London Eye during New Year’s celebrations in central London just after midnight. – AFP

London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display, which annually attracts tens of thousands of spectators, will not go ahead on December 31 due to the coronavirus pandemic, mayor Sadiq Khan said on Friday. “There will not be fireworks on New Year’s Eve this year like in previous years,” he told LBC radio. “We simply can’t afford to have the numbers of people who congregate on New Year’s Eve congregating.” Khan added his administration was working on creating a celebratory event that people could “enjoy in the comfort and safety of their living rooms on TV”.

Britain has been the worst-hit country in Europe by the coronavirus pandemic, with nearly 42,000 deaths from Covid-19. The government has warned it could re-impose a national lockdown across England if new social curbs in the worst-affected areas fail to stem a resurgence in cases. Midnight on December 31 also marks the moment when the UK regains full sovereignty, at the expiry of a transition period following its Brexit divorce from the European Union in January.

Khan, from the main opposition Labor party, strongly opposed Brexit but it was championed by his predecessor as mayor, Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The decision to cancel the London fireworks was up to the mayor, Johnson’s spokesman told reporters. Asked if Downing Street planned to mark the Brexit landmark with its own celebration, pyrotechnic or otherwise, he said any plans would be announced nearer the time, “but I’m not aware of any for now”.- AFP