Last year Boris cancelled Christmas, but this year Sadiq Khan has cancelled New Year’s Eve, citing (you guessed it) covid. While this autumn is so far *touch wood* panning out very differently to 2020’s, it’s a stark reminder that we’re not quite out of the woods and City Hall are clearly not wanting to bet on crowds being able to throng Victoria Embankment in the time-honoured fashion.

Walk down the street or into most restaurants, shops or public spaces and the pandemic appears to be well-and-truly behind us. Mask wearing is down (I calculated that only around 20% of shoppers in South Side Shopping Centre in Wandsworth were wearing masks yesterday lunchtime, it was 100% just a few months ago) and the numbers broadly bear this out, with daily deaths and hospitalisations remaining stable and low.

But we’re also heading out of summer, with its outdoor dining and socialising, and into autumn and winter where we’re likely to be cooped indoors with waning antibody resistance to the coronavirus and transmission of the virus on the up. Add in the surprising number of vaccine-refuseniks and it’s possible that numbers will get less positive and the NHS, creaking already with flu and playing catch-up, may need protecting with further measures.

The NHS, creaking already with flu and playing catch-up, may need protecting with further measures...

A spokesperson for the mayor told reporters “Due to the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, our world-famous New Year’s Eve display will not be held on the banks of the Thames this year.

“Last year’s successful show took place in a slightly different way due to the pandemic, and this year a number of exciting new options are being considered as part of our New Year’s Eve celebrations in London.”

Of course there may be a little more to it than a cautious approach to the pandemic. Money’s incredibly tight at City Hall right now. Not that you’d know it with the eye-watering amounts spent on pet projects like road narrowing, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and the so-called floating bus stops.

London's New Year's Eve fireworks display that saw in 2020 cost £2.2m...

London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display that saw in 2020 cost a whopping £2.2m. This figure must be approved by the Mayor of London and it’s very possible that Khan rightly baulked at committing so much council tax money on a pyrotechnics display at this moment.

At least, let’s hope that’s the reason rather than panic that we’ll be back in lockdown once again…


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