With the omicron variant of the coronavirus raging across the world, New Year’s Eve and other holiday celebrations are in doubt as public health officials urge caution to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday urged the public to cancel upcoming events due to the threat of omicron.
“An event canceled is better than a life canceled,” Tedros said.
In New York City, plans for the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration are also in question as Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to decide this week whether to go through with plans to allow vaccinated visitors to gather. De Blasio said in November he wanted to bring the event back “full strength” this year. Meanwhile, an inauguration celebration for mayor-elect Eric Adams that was to be held Jan. 1 was postponed Tuesday, Adams said in a joint statement with other elected city officials.
Other cities in the United States and around the globe have begun canceling their holiday events, a potential signal of what can be expected in the coming weeks.
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However, even though large public gatherings may be canceled, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told vaccinated and boosted Americans to keep their plans for small family events.
“If you don’t have the availability of the test and you are fully vaccinated and boosted, you should feel comfortable having a holiday meal or gathering with family members who are also vaccinated and boosted,” he said Tuesday on NBC’s “Today.”
Here’s a look at holiday events being canceled:
A New Year’s Eve party in Los Angeles’ Grand Park won’t have an in-person crowd, organizers said.
In Seattle, the Space Needle also won’t have a New Year’s Eve crowd for a second year in a row, but video of live fireworks will be broadcast to be viewed from home, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.
In New York City, the remainder of the performances of the Rockettes’ “Christmas Spectacular” at Radio City Music Hall were canceled starting Friday.
iHeartRadio’s annual Jingle Ball 2021 tour was also cut short. The Miami leg of the tour, scheduled for Sunday, was canceled due to COVID-19 outbreaks, Y100 Miami announced on social media.
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London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Monday he was making the “difficult decision” to cancel the planned 6,500-person event to be held in Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve.
Paris’ government also said it was canceling music and fireworks events in the city around the New Year’s celebration, France24 reported.
Meanwhile, China urged residents this week not to travel during its upcoming holiday season, which lasts until the Lunar New Year in February, the Washington Post reported.
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Among the other events being affected by this omicron surge are professional sports.
Due to the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases throughout the league, the NHL and NHL Players’ Association agreed to start their Christmas break early, with a pause coming Wednesday, before the the originally scheduled holiday break from Dec. 24-26.
The NBA was also battling outbreaks among players and coaches and several games have been postponed in recent days.
Broadway shows, including “Hamilton,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” also recently called off performances.
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Contributing: Chris Bumbaca, Morgan Hines and Kate Mabus, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort