Hong Kong has cancelled its new year fireworks due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the fourth successive year that the spectacular display has been axed.

A mock-up of the New Year countdown for 2023. Photo: Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Instead, the Hong Kong Tourism Board told HKFP that a laser show – an “enhanced” 10-minute version of the nightly Symphony of Lights – would be staged to ring in 2023.

See also: A Covid-19 ‘living museum’: Is Hong Kong really ‘back in business’?

A pyrotechnic display on building rooftops with “dancing lasers” will replace the December 31 fireworks show, whilst the exhibition centre in Wanchai will display a countdown.

Cultural and sports performances will be broadcast on TV and online. The tourism board said in a press release on Wednesday that the event would feature “internationally-acclaimed young pianist Niu Niu (Zhang Shengliang), multiple-time world champion Hong Kong Rope Skipping Club, and local taiko drumming group Gekko Taiko…” It will not be open to the public.

The fireworks show was cancelled in 2019 due to the pro-democracy protests and unrest. Since 2020, it was axed due to the pandemic.

Hong Kong still enforces a group gathering limit of 12 people in public, makes mask-wearing compulsory, and requires tracing apps for entering certain premises such as restaurants.

As of Thursday, the city had seen 2.18 million cases and 10,864 Covid-19 deaths since the onset of the pandemic, according to the government’s online dashboard.

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Tom Grundy

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.