Switzerland’s New Year's revelries muted by Covid-19

This year, Verbier's main square - normally packed with thousands of party-goers - was deserted apart from small groups of visitors and police. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

The Swiss said goodbye to 2020 in a quieter, more intimate fashion. Measures taken to contain the pandemic curtailed celebrations, with official events and fireworks cancelled and large gatherings banned.

This content was published on January 1, 2021 - 11:24

This New Year’s Eve was celebrated like no other as many people bid farewell to a year they would much prefer to forget due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the Swiss capital Bern, the bells of the cathedral rang out the old year and ushered in 2021. But restrictions imposed to stem the spread of Covid-19 meant there was none of the usual New Year’s Eve shouting and laughter heard on the square outside. The official fireworks display had been cancelled in advance.

Likewise in Basel, neither the traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks nor the concert, church service and serving of mulled wine on the banks of the Rhine took place like normal. In Zurich, the “Silvesterzauber Light” in the city centre was also called off.

Normally, thousands of people gather in Verbier, canton Valais, to welcome in the new year. But this year the chic ski resort saw a heavy police presence and barriers to dissuade revellers.

The start of 2021 was also calm and quiet in the exclusive tourist destinations of St Moritz and Davos in eastern Switzerland. St Moritz has cancelled all New Year’s events because of the pandemic, including the drone show that wowed viewers last year instead of the traditional fireworks.

In Villeneuve, canton Vaud, over 100 police were called out to shut down an illegal rave attended by 300 people at the FunPlanet leisure centre.

In Zurich the municipal police said they were busy, but no major incidents were reported.

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