Despite record numbers of COVID-19 cases across the city and nationwide, New York City is forging ahead with modified plans for its annual New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square on Friday.
“We want to show that we’re moving forward, and we want to show the world that New York City is fighting our way through this,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a Thursday interview with the TODAY Show.
In 2020, revelers were banned from the celebration as a result of the pandemic, and only a few essential workers, media members and police were at Times Square as the ball dropped.
This year, the city will require revelers to show proof of vaccination and photo ID and to wear masks. The event normally hosts 58,000 people, but this year will be limited to about 15,000 attendees and won’tallow entry until 3 p.m. ET, de Blasio announced last week.
Elsewhere, major cities are moving to cancel New Year’s celebrations amid surging cases. Atlanta City canceled its annual Peach Drop while San Francisco scrapped its New Year’s show.
Other cities are also moving ahead with New Year’s Event celebration plans, including Chicago, which will host its largest ever New Year’s fireworks display after canceling the show last year. Indoor viewing areas will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.
“If this were indoors, it would be a no-brainer, it would have been canceled,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a Wednesday news conference. “But since it’s outdoors, and we’re spacing people out, we have some confidence that we’re going to minimize and mitigate.”
Across the globe, Rome, Venice and other cities are also canceling plans. Paris scrapped its fireworks show over the Champs-Élysées. London axed its New Year’s event in Trafalgar Square. And Tokyo canceled its world-famous Shibuya Crossing countdown.
As the highly contagious omicron variant spreads, New York City reported record numbers of new COVID cases at more than 39,590 on Tuesday.
While performers including KT Tunstall, Journey and Karol G will take the stage during New York City’s ball drop, LL Cool J announced he would not be performing after testing positive for COVID-19, Rolling Stone reported.
Still, de Blasio said the city’s high vaccination rates make the New Year’s celebration feasible. About 80% of New York City residents have received at least one dose while over 72% are fully vaccinated, according to city data.
“Shutdowns are not the answer,” he said. “The answer is get people vaccinated.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.
‘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