Hello 2021, and goodbye 2020! 

The year of the COVID-19 pandemic has officially ended as the ball dropped in an empty Times Square while millions of Americans watched the annual event from home.  

Times Square is usually at the center of the world’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, with tens of thousands of people packing in to the commercial hub every December 31st to watch the ball drop at midnight. 

But, this year, the time-honored tradition has been modified amid the ongoing pandemic, with members of the public prohibited from gathering in the area for the first time since the ball-drop began back in 1907. 

However, a few dozen people did gather near Times Square Thursday night wearing colorful hats and 2021 glasses. Many appeared to be wearing masks as others took the opportunity to pose for photos near the area. 

On Thursday afternoon Times Square was eerily empty, with the area cordoned off to the public and police patrolling nearby sidewalks to enforce social distancing. 

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The year of the COVID-19 pandemic has officially ended as the ball drops in an empty Times Square while millions of Americans watch the annual event from home. People were seen gathering on 50th Street where they are blocked by police from entering the Times Square area

The year of the COVID-19 pandemic has officially ended as the ball drops in an empty Times Square while millions of Americans watch the annual event from home. People were seen gathering on 50th Street where they are blocked by police from entering the Times Square area

The year of the COVID-19 pandemic has officially ended as the ball drops in an empty Times Square while millions of Americans watch the annual event from home. People were seen gathering on 50th Street where they are blocked by police from entering the Times Square area 

This year, the time-honored tradition has been modified amid the ongoing pandemic, with members of the public prohibited from gathering in the area for the first time since the ball-drop began back in 1907

This year, the time-honored tradition has been modified amid the ongoing pandemic, with members of the public prohibited from gathering in the area for the first time since the ball-drop began back in 1907

This year, the time-honored tradition has been modified amid the ongoing pandemic, with members of the public prohibited from gathering in the area for the first time since the ball-drop began back in 1907

A few dozen people did gather near Times Square Thursday night wearing colorful hats and 2021 glasses

A few dozen people did gather near Times Square Thursday night wearing colorful hats and 2021 glasses

A few dozen people did gather near Times Square Thursday night wearing colorful hats and 2021 glasses

Many appeared to be wearing masks as others took the opportunity to pose for photos

Many appeared to be wearing masks as others took the opportunity to pose for photos

Many appeared to be wearing masks as others took the opportunity to pose for photos

A man is seen wearing 2021 glasses ahead of the ball drop in New York City's Times Square

A man is seen wearing 2021 glasses ahead of the ball drop in New York City's Times Square

A man is seen wearing 2021 glasses ahead of the ball drop in New York City’s Times Square 

People gather in Midtown Manhattan to pose for photos ahead of the New Year's Eve celebrations

People gather in Midtown Manhattan to pose for photos ahead of the New Year's Eve celebrations

People gather in Midtown Manhattan to pose for photos ahead of the New Year’s Eve celebrations 

Several people were seen wearing decorative 2021 hats near the Times Square area Thursday night

Several people were seen wearing decorative 2021 hats near the Times Square area Thursday night

Several people were seen wearing decorative 2021 hats near the Times Square area Thursday night 

Children are seen with decorative accessories as they pose for a photo near Times Square on Thursday

Children are seen with decorative accessories as they pose for a photo near Times Square on Thursday

Children are seen with decorative accessories as they pose for a photo near Times Square on Thursday 

People wearing protective mask look for the Times Square ball near Times Square during the virtual New Year's Eve event

People wearing protective mask look for the Times Square ball near Times Square during the virtual New Year's Eve event

People wearing protective mask look for the Times Square ball near Times Square during the virtual New Year’s Eve event

A couple kisses near Times Square during the virtual New Year's Eve event on Thursday

A couple kisses near Times Square during the virtual New Year's Eve event on Thursday

A couple kisses near Times Square during the virtual New Year’s Eve event on Thursday 

Attendees watch a performance near Times Square during 2021 New Year's Eve celebrations on Thursday in New York City

Attendees watch a performance near Times Square during 2021 New Year's Eve celebrations on Thursday in New York City

Attendees watch a performance near Times Square during 2021 New Year’s Eve celebrations on Thursday in New York City

Groups of people were seen watching a performance near Times Square during the 2021 New Year's Eve celebrations

Groups of people were seen watching a performance near Times Square during the 2021 New Year's Eve celebrations

Groups of people were seen watching a performance near Times Square during the 2021 New Year’s Eve celebrations

Mounted New York City police officers are seen in Times Square ahead of the New Year's Eve celebrations

Mounted New York City police officers are seen in Times Square ahead of the New Year's Eve celebrations

Mounted New York City police officers are seen in Times Square ahead of the New Year’s Eve celebrations

The Big Apple is battling against a second wave of COVID-19 infections, as well as soaring rates of violent crime, an uptick in closing businesses, and a drastic drop in revenue. 

Hopes for a brighter 2021 have been dampened by news of a dismally slow roll-out of the coronavirus vaccine, with a paltry 29.7 per cent of available doses administered across New York as of Wednesday. 

New Year’s Eve celebrations first began in Times Square back in 1907, and people have gathered there every year since. 

Even in 2001, less than four months after the September 11 terrorist attacks, crowds converged upon the commercial strip to celebrate the start of a New Year. 

But this year, officials have officially barred the public from moving in. The only people allowed into the area are media and invited first responders who have been hailed as the ‘Heroes of 2020’. 

However, the ball drop will still go ahead and people are encouraged to watch the event virtually. Performances will also still take place, albeit without an audience. 

Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus and Megan Thee Stallion took the stage as part of the festivities. 

On Thursday afternoon Times Square was eerily empty, with the area cordoned off to the public and police patrolling nearby sidewalks to enforce social distancing

On Thursday afternoon Times Square was eerily empty, with the area cordoned off to the public and police patrolling nearby sidewalks to enforce social distancing

On Thursday afternoon Times Square was eerily empty, with the area cordoned off to the public and police patrolling nearby sidewalks to enforce social distancing

Only members of the media and first responders were allowed into the area, and they will have to stand socially distanced

Only members of the media and first responders were allowed into the area, and they will have to stand socially distanced

Only members of the media and first responders were allowed into the area, and they will have to stand socially distanced

The way we were! Revelers are seen packing into Times Square on December 31, 2019. Party goers could not predict that the world would soon be turned upside down

The way we were! Revelers are seen packing into Times Square on December 31, 2019. Party goers could not predict that the world would soon be turned upside down

The way we were! Revelers are seen packing into Times Square on December 31, 2019. Party goers could not predict that the world would soon be turned upside down 

The time-honored tradition has been going since 1907. New Yorkers are pictured in Times Square on New Year's Eve 1939

The time-honored tradition has been going since 1907. New Yorkers are pictured in Times Square on New Year's Eve 1939

The time-honored tradition has been going since 1907. New Yorkers are pictured in Times Square on New Year’s Eve 1939

However, for many weary New Yorkers, there does not seem much to celebrate. 

On Wednesday, The Big Apple reported its highest ever daily increase in coronavirus cases, with nearly 6,000 new infections confirmed across the five boroughs. 

Hospitalizations and deaths are also increasing at an alarming rate. Gov Andrew Cuomo is now preparing to reopen the Javits Center field hospital, designed to treat an influx of COVID cases. 

And New York is not the only state ringing in the new year differently. The US and other countries are celebrating from home or with modified events as cases of the virus continue to rise. 

Festivities in Newry, Maine, began promptly at 9pm and consisted of fireworks at the Sunday River resort. 

In Florida, female impersonator Gary Marion, known as Sushi, performed Thursday night during the New Year’s Eve Shoe Drop. 

Normally held on Duval Street at midnight, the event was moved behind Key West’s Bourbon St Pub and occurred several hours early to comply with a mandatory 10pm curfew that Key West city officials ordered to reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus.

And New York is not the only state ringing in the new year differently. The US and other countries are celebrating from home or with modified events as cases of the virus continue to rise. Tyler Owens toasts to a new year with his wife Olivia Owens in St Louis, Missouri

And New York is not the only state ringing in the new year differently. The US and other countries are celebrating from home or with modified events as cases of the virus continue to rise. Tyler Owens toasts to a new year with his wife Olivia Owens in St Louis, Missouri

And New York is not the only state ringing in the new year differently. The US and other countries are celebrating from home or with modified events as cases of the virus continue to rise. Tyler Owens toasts to a new year with his wife Olivia Owens in St Louis, Missouri 

Female impersonator Gary Marion, known as Sushi, waves to a small group of revelers after descending in a large replica of a woman's high-heel shoe in the back courtyard of a Key West, Florida, entertainment and hotel complex, late Thursday. Normally held on Duval Street at midnight, the New Year's Eve Shoe Drop was moved behind Key West's Bourbon St Pub

Female impersonator Gary Marion, known as Sushi, waves to a small group of revelers after descending in a large replica of a woman's high-heel shoe in the back courtyard of a Key West, Florida, entertainment and hotel complex, late Thursday. Normally held on Duval Street at midnight, the New Year's Eve Shoe Drop was moved behind Key West's Bourbon St Pub

Female impersonator Gary Marion, known as Sushi, waves to a small group of revelers after descending in a large replica of a woman’s high-heel shoe in the back courtyard of a Key West, Florida, entertainment and hotel complex, late Thursday. Normally held on Duval Street at midnight, the New Year’s Eve Shoe Drop was moved behind Key West’s Bourbon St Pub

Sunday River guests watch the fireworks display on the side of the ski trails to ring in the New Year on Thursday in Newry, Maine. All festivities stopped promptly at 9pm in accordance with state guidelines

Sunday River guests watch the fireworks display on the side of the ski trails to ring in the New Year on Thursday in Newry, Maine. All festivities stopped promptly at 9pm in accordance with state guidelines

Sunday River guests watch the fireworks display on the side of the ski trails to ring in the New Year on Thursday in Newry, Maine. All festivities stopped promptly at 9pm in accordance with state guidelines

Skiers descend the Broadway Trail at Sunday River in a New Year's Eve torchlight parade on Thursday in Newry, Maine

Skiers descend the Broadway Trail at Sunday River in a New Year's Eve torchlight parade on Thursday in Newry, Maine

Skiers descend the Broadway Trail at Sunday River in a New Year’s Eve torchlight parade on Thursday in Newry, Maine

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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