NYC reduces crowd size, adds mask rule for New Year's Eve

Coronavirus update for NYC

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Friday, December 24, 2021
New Year's Eve in Times Square still on, with smaller crowd and mask rule
CeFaan Kim has more on how the celebration in Times Square will make adjustments amid the omicron surge.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Mayor de Blasio has announced that the traditional New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square will have a reduced crowd size and a mask rule in place due to the increase in COVID cases and spread of the omicron variant.

He also announced several new safety measures, including that attendees will be required to wear masks. Viewing areas will also be filled with fewer people to allow for social distancing.

There was already a vaccine and ID requirement in place.

"New Yorkers have stepped up tremendously over the past year," de Blasio said. "We are leading the way on vaccinations, we have reopened safely, and every day we work toward building a recovery for all of us. There is a lot to celebrate, and these additional safety measures will keep the fully vaccinated crowd safe and healthy as we ring in the New Year."

Made in consultation with health and medical experts, the additional safety measures are designed to keep revelers safe and healthy as they ring in the New Year.

The good news is the show will go on! This year, ABC is celebrating the 50th anniversary of 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve.' Coverage begins at 8:00 p.m. on New Year's Eve on Channel 7!

"We're actually very excited that we're able to find a way to welcome revelers back in Time Square, and do it in a safe, responsible manner. In the middle of this recent outbreak," Tom Harris, president of Times Square Alliance, said. "We think it's very important to show the world that we can carry on our traditions in a safe and responsible way."

The city, in partnership with Times Square Alliance, will continue to monitor the situation and take additional precautions and measures in the coming days if needed.

"New York is the best place in the world to celebrate New Year's Eve and now it will be one of the safest against COVID as well," Mayor-elect Eric Adams said. "The mayor has made the right move to take precautionary measures as we learn to live with COVID and fight the omicron variant-and New Yorkers and visitors alike can now enjoy Times Square and the rest of our city as we ring in 2022."

Normally hosting approximately 58,000 people in viewing areas, this year's celebration will be reduced to roughly 15,000 people, and visitors won't be allowed entry until 3 p.m. -- much later than past years.

All attendees who are age 5 or over must present proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter the event. Unvaccinated minors under the age of 5 must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult.

"From the beginning, from the announcement, we thought that it was prudent to make sure that everyone's fully vaccinated," Harris said. "Now we are adding the mask requirement to that. And also we're going to reduce the capacity of the pens by about 75%. So we would normally have about 1,000 people in each viewing area, we're going to bring that down to about 250 people per viewing area. And then we're also going to require them to wear masks."

Meanwhile, de Blasio remained confident that it will all be temporary and he says the city will not go back into another lockdown.

"It will be a tough few weeks, but it'll only be a few weeks," he said. "Omicron has come on real fast, but it will be over soon."

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