Happy New Year: UK welcomes in 2022 with a bang despite Covid restrictions

Drones and fireworks illuminate the night sky over the Old Royal Naval College in London. Credit: PA

London has rung in the New Year with an epic fireworks and drone display over the Thames, but people were urged to stay away, as Covid cases continue to rise across the UK.

The capital's mayor, Sadiq Khan, had cancelled the Trafalgar Square fireworks event due to the spike in Covid cases and the public were told to watch it on television instead.

Organisers had promised a behind closed doors event but at the 11th hour, as the clock struck midnight, London's skyline suddenly lit up with spectacular fireworks and the famous Shard projected colourful beams of light across the city.

The Shard projected colourful beams of light across the city as it counted down to 2022.

Fireworks shot up above Millennium Bridge and the Old Royal Naval College, with colourful drone displays illuminating the sky.

The event saw crowds gather along the Southbank - though in much smaller groups than in pre-Covid times.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA
Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Big Ben also made a big comeback and rang out at midnight, following a lengthy period of silence as it underwent restoration work.

This year, like last, parties to welcome in 2022 have had to be muted amid a raft of different restrictions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland due to surging cases of the Omicron Covid variant.

Many revellers travelled to England to celebrate the night, as the nation enjoys the most relaxed restrictions in the UK over the New Year period.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA
Credit: PA

New Year’s Eve parties in England were given the green light after Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced there would be no new restrictions before January 1.

Boris Johnson urged the public ahead of Friday night to take lateral flow tests and get their booster jabs.

He said: "Everybody should enjoy New Year but in a cautious and sensible way - take a test, ventilation, think about others but, above all, get a booster."

Despite London's famous fireworks not taking place in the city centre, many headed out in droves to Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Soho and other popular areas.

London's Leicester Square started to fill up as the night went on Credit: PA
Credit: PA
Credit: PA

In Newcastle, a laser light city display by award-winning artist Seb Lee-Delisle is being projected over the famous Millennium and Tyne bridges.

The laser show controlled by the public using an app will run until 10pm on New Years day as part of the New Year's celebrations after fireworks were cancelled.

Credit: PA
Many were queueing at clubs in Liverpool Credit: PA

Those travelling by taxi or public transport tonight in England have been told to wear a face mask, although they are not required inside bars, nightclubs or restaurants.

Anyone going to a nightclub in England has to show an NHS Covid pass.

Scotland's traditional Hogamanay celebrations are cancelled this year and the limit on the number of people who can take part in events has seen many New Year’s Eve street parties cancelled.

The Scottish Government has urged people to “stay at home as much as possible”, with any meet-ups to be limited to a maximum of three households.

But Scots have not let the rules dampen their spirits and many were seen out in smaller groups enjoying quieter nights in the city centres at pubs and bars.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

In Northern Ireland, nightclubs are closed for New Year’s Eve, while dancing is banned in hospitality venues.

For those venturing out to restaurants, table numbers are limited to six people and diners must remain seated for table service.

In Wales, nightclubs are also closed and only a maximum of 30 people can attend indoor events and a maximum of 50 for outdoor events.

Groups of no more than six are allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants, while licensed premises can offer table service only.