Cities trying to avoid New Year's Eve crowds

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Tallinn's New Year's Eve concert. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Cities all over Estonia have introduced changes to their New Year's programs to avoid crowds this year. Tallinn will hold several smaller fireworks displays instead of a central one that people can observe without leaving home.

Citizens of the capital will not be celebrating the arrival of the new year together in Freedom Square this year, "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Saturday.

Lasnamäe City District Elder Vladimir Svet said that while there will be fireworks, they will be smaller this year and take place in boroughs and districts to avoid large crowds in the city center.

"The city is working on a plan of where these fireworks displays will take place. We have already said that the traditional Freedom Square New Year's fireworks are canceled," Svet said.

Those planning to take a stroll in the city center on December 31 can watch a fireworks display near Reidi tee or the Russalka monument as these areas have enough open space for the 2+2 rule to be observed.

The capital urges citizens not to shoot off fireworks in backyards as it endangers fellow citizens and disturbs pets.

The Tartu city government has not yet decided how to celebrate New Year's. Tartu has organized a grand fireworks display every year that citizens can enjoy on the banks of the Emajõgi. The city has held a procurement, declared a winner and still hopes to organize the display this year. Whether it can happen and how is still being discussed.

"We have organized a procurement, received attractive bids and picked an innovative and environmentally friendly solution that sports a lower noise level. We are standing by. However, it will depend on the epidemiological situation. People tend to organize more chaotic fireworks themselves and are more likely to do so if the city's fireworks display is smaller. Therefore, we could have a single central display and want to have one. But we will see," said Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas.

Pärnu did not hold an official fireworks display last year and will also refrain from it this year. People are welcome to come and send off the old year near Christmas trees in the Central Square or Independence Square, while a sensible distance from other people needs to be maintained.

Head of the public relations service of the Pärnu city government Anu Juurmaa-Saks said that people could keep parties small. "Stay home or take a walk in the city where there is a lot of beauty. The virus is spreading. We had modest plans for December 31 but they were canceled this time. Perhaps we will do something grander next year," she said.

The Haapsalu city authorities decided to cancel the city's traditional fireworks display. The city government urges people to avoid gathering in large groups on New Year's Eve.

Haapsalu has organized a major fireworks display in the Old Town every New Year's. If initial plans for this year saw pyrotechnics replaced with a laser show, the city recently said it will not be organizing a display as it would be impossible to keep tabs on attendance at night.

Deputy Mayor Tõnu Parbus said that the city still plans to have light installations. To make sure people are dispersed, the decorations will be installed in different parts of the city and switched off two hours before midnight. Parbus urged citizens not to gather in large groups.

"We call on people to take a walk in the city between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. before going home to welcome the New Year," the deputy mayor said.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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