The planned massive party was called off by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who feared a major live event could be a super-spreader of the highly transmissible COVID-19 variant capable of overwhelming the UK’s National Health Service hospital system.
The event will now consist of a cobbled-together rehash of the year’s “most defining moments” — to be broadcast on British television and radio.
“With infections of COVID-19 at record levels across our city and the UK, I’m determined to work closely with partners in our city to do everything we possibly can to slow the spread of the new variant and ensure our NHS services are not overwhelmed this winter,” the mayor said in a statement.
“This means that we will no longer be hosting a celebration event for 6,500 people on Trafalgar Square this New Year’s Eve.
“This will be very disappointing for many Londoners, but we must take the right steps to reduce the spread of the virus.”
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he will make a decision on the Big Apple’s own iconic Times Square celebration before Christmas.
The cancelled London event was supposed to replace the annual fireworks show along the Thames River that had been nixed in October because of “uncertainty” over COVID-19.
On Monday, the UK reported more than 90,000 new confirmed COVID cases for the third time in the past week.
COVID has forced Queen Elizabeth II, 95, to break from tradition for the second year running by spending Christmas bunkered down at Windsor Castle, west of London, instead of traveling to the royal Sandringham estate in eastern England.