By Karim El-Bar
LONDON (AA) – London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Friday that London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display will not take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I can tell you that there will not be a fireworks New Year’s Eve this year like in previous years,” Khan said on LBC Radio.
“We simply cannot afford to have the number of people congregate on New Year’s Eve. What we are working on is to do something that people can enjoy in the comfort and safety of their living rooms on TV,” Khan said.
“As soon as we manage to bottom that out [finalize the details] I’ll be letting Londoners and people across the country know,” he said.
“We can’t afford to lose that slot because New Year’s Eve is a really great opportunity for the rest of the world to see how wonderful our city is. Particularly during a recession, we need to continue investment in our city and people coming to London.”
“There will be nothing going on in town,” Khan said. “So the key thing to avoid will be a reason for people to come into town.”
Over 100,000 tickets were sold for last year’s display.
The news came as political leaders across the country warned of a second wave of coronavirus.
New local lockdown restrictions were announced today in parts of Northwest England, the Midlands, and West Yorkshire. People will be banned from mixing with people from other households, and pubs and restaurants will have to close at 10 p.m. local time in some areas.
A local council leader in northeast England told the BBC: “We have got our hands bound behind our backs and a blindfold on because we cannot get tests. There are really significant problems with the test system.”
“We have got the expertise but we need money and test kits. We’re heading towards a catastrophe until they [the government] recognize that,” he added.
– ‘Critical moment’
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in her daily coronavirus briefing: “I want to give the nation advance notice that the coming days are likely to see some hard but necessary decisions.”
“This weekend is a critical moment for us to take decisions about the additional steps we need to take,” she said. “I do want to have four-nations discussions around this, I have asked the prime minister to convene a Cobra, we will ideally align as much as possible.”
Cobra is the government’s national emergency coordination committee.
Sturgeon stressed she was not talking about another national lockdown, and that further restrictions would help prevent that outcome.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford blasted UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for not discussing the coronavirus pandemic with the leaders of the devolved nations.
At a news conference in Cardiff, the Welsh capital, he said there was a “vacancy at the heart” of the UK, adding he has only had one short conversation with Johnson since May 28.
“This is simply unacceptable to anyone who believes that we ought to be facing the coronavirus crisis together,” Drakeford said.
“We need a regular, reliable rhythm of engagement: a reliable meeting even once a week would be a start.”
“There is a vacancy at the heart of the United Kingdom, and it needs urgently to be filled, so we can talk to each other, share information, pool ideas and demonstrate a determination that the whole of the country can face these challenges together at this most difficult time,” he said.
British authorities announced on Friday that a further 4,322 people tested positive for coronavirus across the UK over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 385,936. A further 27 people died, bringing the total number of fatalities to 41,732.
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