Britain rings in 2021 in muted fashion with sparse crowds and heavy police presence – Mirror Online

The clock has struck midnight in Britain beckoning in a new year and the end to one of the strangest 12 months in the country’s history.

2020 went out with something of a whimper with the usual firework displays axed and nightclubs having been shut for months, as streets across major towns and cities sat eerily sparse.

All of England – bar the 2,000 inhabitants on the Isles of Scilly – was thrust into Tiers 3 and 4 on Wednesday, forcing all bars and pubs to close.

Under the highest Tier, only two people from different households can meet outdoors – though some flouters in central London were pushing their luck, while crowds gathered on South Bank.

Fireworks and drones did, however, illuminate the night sky over the capital as part of a light display on Tower Bridge after the city’s normal New Year’s Eve extravaganza was cancelled.

A light display over the River Thames and fireworks on Tower Bridge in London
(Image: PA)

Fireworks erupted into the London sky

Similarly, thousands watched an incredible display in the skies of Newcastle from their windows.

But a countrywide rowdy end of year celebration it is not – more a thoughtful sigh of relief and a sign that as Brits we must remain cautious.

Something more difficult when other countries are able see out the year in the usual gusto having already brought the virus under control.

Traditional New Year’s Eve hot spots, including Blackpool, were abandoned while the likes of Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and Cardiff were equally deserted.

Instead, people across the UK instead launched fireworks into the sky from their back gardens as pleas to stay at home amid the raging pandemic were widely followed.

Police patrol a quiet Princes Street in Edinburgh

Police patrol a quiet Princes Street in Edinburgh
(Image: PA)

If this year has taught us anything – it’s how to amuse ourselves while staying comfortably on our sofas in front of the TV in household bubbles.

But not everyone heeded the call as the new strain of Covid runs rampant – thousands of careless partygoers are attending illegal parties, with organisers shrugging off threats of £10,000 fines.

Police have broken up one such 60-strong event tonight at a building in Chadwell Heath, east London and then another with 100 people in Barking.

A crowd gathers in South Bank

A crowd gathers in South Bank
(Image: REX/Shutterstock)

Groups of people gather together at Piccadilly Circus in a near-deserted London
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Some shameless organisers advertised events on social media saying partygoers can dance 2020 away at a secret location.

Despite the Elizabeth Tower being shrouded in scaffolding, Big Ben did lead the bongs, despite the distinct lack of crowds to perform the traditional count down.

Just an hour earlier the famous bell had rung out another 12 times – a test, according to the House of Parliament office, that just happened to come at the moment the UK officially left the EU.

Four years ago when the electorate voted 52% to 48% to exit the union, few could have envisaged the circumstance that have come to colour Brexit Day.

(Image: Dave Nelson)

Drinkers queue for a cold beer at the White Hart in New Cross, South London

Drinkers queue for a cold beer at the White Hart in New Cross, South London
(Image: Tim Merry)

Parliament Square, where the honking call of the ‘Stop Brexit’ man rang out across news broadcast for much of 2017, 2018 and 2019, was hauntingly quiet.

So too were town and city centres across the land, which had been stripped of their usual scenes of New Years Eve jubilation.

The fireworks that usually light up the banks of the River Thames were also missing, in a bid to avoid big gatherings to curb the spread of Covid-19.

(Image: Getty Images)

A man gestures to the camera in Manchester
(Image: Getty Images)

Displays in Edinburgh, Manchester and Liverpool were also binned.

The relative hush that descended across the UK today came the day after Boris Johnson urged people to see 2021 in from the safety of their homes.

His calls were echoed by national medical director at NHS England Professor Stephen Powis, who warned that: “Covid loves a crowd.”

For the most part people played their part, conscious of not placing an even greater burden on NHS staff working fall tilt to treat huge numbers of Covid-19 patients.

NYE celebrations at the Mermaid pub on St Mary's, Isle Of Scilly

NYE celebrations at the Mermaid pub on St Mary’s, Isle Of Scilly
(Image: Chris Hall / SWNS.com)

Fireworks could be heard blasting out throughout the evening, while a solitary man was spotted twirling a sparkler in central London.

Scotland’s traditional Hogmanay celebrations were moved online this year, leaving Scots to raise a dram from the comfort of their living rooms.

The only place where festivities resembled anything close to normality was in the Isles of Scilly – where a few lucky Brits could huddle out of the freezing night air and into pubs.