Count down the last moments of 2020 with views over the towering skyline and iconic harbor of Hong Kong — one of the first countries in the world to wave goodbye to this long year — all from the safety of home.
While travelers may not be able to hop a flight to the bustling Asian city right now, Hong Kong is bringing the celebration to them with a virtual live countdown starting at 11 p.m. local time (or 10 a.m. EST) on Dec. 31, the Hong Kong Tourism Board shared with Travel + Leisure.
When the clock strikes midnight, the city will welcome 2021 with a two-minute video featuring Hong Kong landmarks as well as “festive greetings sending blessings to the world.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic is not going to stop us from sharing festive cheers with the rest of the world, so we have created an innovative new online format for the Hong Kong New Year Countdown Celebrations this year that enables people to watch from their homes while practicing social distancing for their safety,” Bill Flora, the USA director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, told T+L. “This new livestream format is designed to ensure people anywhere around the world can join this annual event and also sends a positive message to the world that Hong Kong’s lively and welcoming spirit… remains strong.”
The celebrations come days after Hong Kong increased its mandatory quarantine to 21 days for all visitors coming from outside China, Reuters reported. The city also banned travelers coming from the UK and South Africa due to the discovery of new coronavirus strains in each of those countries.
“Noting the drastic change of the global pandemic situation with the new virus variant found in more countries, there is a need for the government to introduce resolute measures immediately… to ensure that no case would slip through the net even under very exceptional cases where the incubation period of the virus is longer than 14 days,” a government spokesman told the wire service.
Hong Kong isn’t alone in putting its New Year’s Eve celebrations online. New York City’s Times Square will ring in 2021 with a virtual fête this year, complete with Gloria Gaynor performing her iconic anthem, “I Will Survive,” and honoring first responders, frontline workers, and essential workers.