By Ted Scouten

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – So many of us are looking forward to kicking 2020 out the door and welcoming in 2021, but this year the way we do that is going to be very different.

For the last 35 years, we’ve watched the Big Orange rise in downtown Miami to welcome the new year. Not this time around.

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“Everything has been canceled. We don’t want to be a big spreader. We don’t want to bring all the people together in downtown Miami like we have before,” said Miami Commissioner Manolo Reyes.

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We’re not going to see the big anchor drop in Fort Lauderdale either, at least not live and in person. It will be pre-recorded with no audience.

“For an hour before midnight, Fort Lauderdale will have live bands, virtual live bands, we’ll party hearty in that last hour of 2020 and at the stroke of midnight we’ll drop anchor and begin a new year, hopefully, a more optimistic year of 2021,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis.

Watch The Fort Lauderdale Downtown Countdown Celebration Here

Fort Lauderdale will have a fireworks display downtown, but with no viewing area. Residents will be able to see it from their yards and balconies.

For a lot of people, New Year’s Eve will be very different.

“Sometimes we have another couple over to drink champagne and play games, but this year it’s just going to be the two of us,” said Dana Bricker.

CBS4’s Ted Souten asked David Zonderman if he planned to have friends over to celebrate the new year.

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“No. We’re being careful. I’ll just do a virtual thing with my brother in New York,” he replied.

The hope is to stop large gatherings and the spread of covid.

“Don’t be kissing strangers at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Try to stay at home with your family. Don’t invite any family members over that are not part of your regular household. Make it a quiet New Year’s Eve this year,” said Trantalis.

While many people will still crowd together, whether it’s in a public space, bars, restaurants or homes, Miami-Dade’s Chief Medical Officer reminds people coronavirus cases are still on the rise.

“We see that the positivity rate in the county in the past three days has increased significantly. The positivity rate for December 27th was 10.8% for the county. Much higher than the prior two weeks,” said Dr. Peter Paige.

Also, keep in mind there’s a 1 a.m. curfew in place in both counties.

“One o’clock, that’s definitely shutdown time. People are leaving, going home, that’s okay, but no congregation after 1 a.m., and this is designed to keep us safe and stop the spread,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

While the vaccine does bring us hope, health experts remind us we are not out of the woods yet. We still have to get past the holidays and the surge on a surge.

Bottom line, don’t let your guard down.

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Health officials are urging people to continue to follow the protocols, like wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands, and staying away from big crowds.

Ted Scouten