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Thailand celebrated New Year’s Eve with fireworks, Covid-19 measures

PHOTO: New Year's Eve celebrations, like this one in Phangan, were marked with fireworks and Covid-19 precautions. (via The Thaiger)

Last night, despite fears of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, people all over Thailand celebrated the New Year with parties, events, and loads of fireworks. While many official government events were cancelled in provinces throughout the country and in the capital city, private events were permitted to continue with tightened Covid-19 restrictions.

In Bangkok, Iconsiam shopping complex hosted the biggest New Year’s Eve event in the city, while observing Covid-19 restrictions, climaxing with an estimated 30000 fireworks launched into the skies above the Chao Phraya River. Like other events throughout the country, increased Covid-19 precautions were taken including guests having to show proof of vaccinations and a Covid-19 test being taken at the entrance, with partygoers only given an admission bracelet and tickets after test results returned negative. The number of attendees was also limited to allow for social distancing, and strict sanitising measures were taking to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The official traditional New Year’s morning mass almsgiving in Bangkok was cancelled, though many Thai people still came out in the morning to ask for blessings for 2022 and make merit.

Phuket hosted a similarly large fireworks show with about 20,000 being launched at midnight at the island’s countdown party, one promoted by the government to signal Thailand’s comeback from the Covid-19 pandemic. The event featured a live performance from Andrea Bocelli, one of the world’s top opera singers, after the government famously bungled plans by announcing a performance by K-pop superstar Lisa without even checking that she was already booked to perform elsewhere.

That event was limited to 3,000 attendees to allow for social distancing, with all patrons required to wear face masks at all times. Partygoers were all required to have a negative Covid-19 test at most 72 hours before the event, and performers and staff of the countdown were required to do the same.

Koh Phangan hosted their world-famous Full Moon Party countdown event, with last-minute Covid-19 restrictions hastily put in place in hopes of avoiding infection spread. Thousands of people filled Haad Rin Beach and bars along the side streets and were treated to a slew of DJs, fire jugglers, a flaming countdown sign, and a fireworks show launched from boats in the bay, despite rough waters preventing a lot of marine traffic.

Though thousands were already booked into beach resorts, a checkpoint was set up requiring proof of vaccinations and a negative test and administering antigen test kits on the spot for those without proof. Unofficial reports stated that at least seven people were turned away at the entrance after testing positive for Covid-19 with an ATK.

Chiang Mai also celebrated with a fireworks display at the official countdown celebrations taking place at Tha Phae Gate and at Royal Park Rajapruek with Covid-19 precautions in place. Temples held traditional Buddhist prayers, modernised by Covid-19 safety precautions, checking those who came to pray for Covid-19 and maintaining social distancing by limiting capacity to 500 worshippers at famous temples like Wat Phra Singh Woramahaviharn.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.