Next week’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square will be “scaled back,” with fewer revelers and everyone required to wear a mask, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said Thursday.
The celebration in Times Square typically holds around 58,000 people in viewing areas, but this year it will be limited to 15,000 people and visitors will not be allowed entry into the area until 3 p.m., the office said in a news release.
Additionally, everyone will be required to wear a mask and show photo identification at the fully outdoor event, de Blasio’s office said.
As previously announced, all visitors to the Times Square celebration are required to show proof of vaccination if they are older than 5. Any unvaccinated children younger than 5 must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult to attend, the mayor’s office said.
Earlier this week, de Blasio said city officials were reviewing plans for the event in light of a Covid-19 case surge and the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus. On Tuesday, he said he was hopeful that the event could go on as planned.
The changes came a couple of days later. The additional measures “will keep the fully vaccinated crowd safe and healthy as we ring in the New Year,” de Blasio said in Thursday’s news release.
“This year’s holiday season may not be the one we had hoped for, but we can still have a happy holiday season,” city Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi said in the news release. “All New Yorkers should get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible. Wear a quality face mask and stay home if you’re feeling sick, no matter how mild your symptoms.”
Mayor-elect Eric Adams, who takes office January 1, said de Blasio “made the right move to take precautionary measures as we learn to live with COVID and fight the Omicron variant.”
“New Yorkers and visitors alike can now enjoy Times Square and the rest of our city as we ring in 2022,” Adams said in the news release.
In November, de Blasio announced the return of a “big, strong, full strength” in-person New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square this year following its virtual event last year due to pandemic concerns.
The usual countdown and famous ball drop happened last year, but no crowds were allowed on the streets. Other cities also held scaled-back celebrations.
CNN’s Laura Ly reported from New York, and Jason Hanna wrote from Atlanta.