New York City announced on Thursday that there will be new rules for the annual New Year’s celebration in Times Square. The rules include masking, smaller crowd size and proof of vaccination. But will those measures be enough to stop the spread of Omicron?
Amid an increase in Covid-19 cases, a decision was made to scale back New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday during MSNBC’s Morning Joe, that he wants to go forward with New Year’s celebrations as long as the city can do it safely.
He said, “We’d like that event to move forward so long as we can do it safely and that will be a decision with the health care leaders. So, the preference is to keep it on. It’s a very important event to the city and to the world. And again, we don’t want to live in defeat or surrender to Covid.”
At the time of his Wednesday statement, de Blasio didn’t say what kind of safety precautions the city would be putting in place.
In his most recent statement, the mayor praised New Yorkers for their ability to weather the pandemic. “New Yorkers have stepped up tremendously over the past year—we are leading the way on vaccinations, we have reopened safely, and every day we work toward building a recovery for all of us,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “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.”
The Times Square celebration will now have a capped crowd size of 15,000 people, compared to the 58,000 who have attended in past years. All attendees must wear masks and show proof of vaccination and proof of ID before being allowed into the outdoor event.
Attendees will be allowed into Times Square at 3 p.m., which is much later than past years. If someone can’t provide proof of vaccination because of a medical reason, then he or she must show a negative Covid-19 PCR test. The test must have been taken within 72 hours of the event.
The mayor’s rules are being praised by many members of the New York government and those who are in charge of the Times Square celebrations. Tom Harris, president of the Times Square Alliance, released a statement after the New Year’s rules were announced.
He said, “We applaud the leadership of Mayor de Blasio in finding a way to welcome revelers into Times Square on New Year’s Eve in an even safer way than we originally planned. This year revelers will be fully vaccinated, masked, and we will have reduced occupancy in the viewing areas. We understand that everyone will not be able to be here but welcome them to experience New Year’s Eve in Times Square from our live webcast, on one of the networks or on the VNYE app.”
While some are praising the mayor for keeping the celebrations going, many are still calling for him to cancel the event. New York healthcare workers are worried that the Times Square celebration could cause a surge of cases, and many are wondering how the mayor and his staff will enforce the rules.
One healthcare worker wrote on Twitter and said, “How can you do this to us healthcare workers here in NYC? We are begging you to call this off. We are tired and overwhelmed. How much more do you want from us?”
According to the Covid-19 report for Thursday, New York state saw a 35% increase in Covid-19 cases. There were over 38,000 cases in just one day which was over 10,000 more from the day before. Over 28,000 of those cases were in New York City.
An account called March for Science called the New Year’s rules dangerous and begged the mayor to rethink his decision.
It said, “An irresponsible and dangerous decision. How will distancing be maintained? How will masking be enforced? What about the unnecessary strain this adds to our subway system and local businesses? Cancel the event.”
Do you think this year’s Times Square NYE celebration should be canceled? Let us know in the comments section below.