New York City to scale down New Year’s Eve celebrations at Times Square

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NEW YORK (REUTERS) – New York will sharply restrict the variety of folks it permits in Times Square for its New Year’s Eve celebration, Mayor Bill de Blasio mentioned on Thursday (Dec 23), in response to a surge of latest coronavirus circumstances fuelled by the extremely contagious Omicron variant.

For a second yr in a row, the virus that causes Covid-19 is casting a shadow over the festivities, which generally attracts large crowds to the famed intersection in midtown Manhattan.

After hours of reside leisure, the night culminates with the dropping of an enormous crystal ball at midnight, signalling the beginning of the brand new yr. Millions of others all over the world watch on tv.

This yr, the town will permit solely a few third of the same old variety of partygoers inside the handfuls of fenced-out viewing areas arrange within the sq., permitting for larger social distancing. Partygoers must present proof of full vaccination and put on masks.

“Normally hosting approximately 58,000 people in viewing areas, this year’s celebration will host approximately 15,000 people,” Mr de Blasio mentioned in a press release.

In addition, admission to the viewing areas will start at about 3pm, later than in previous years.

Last yr, when Covid-19 vaccines have been within the early levels of rolling out, the celebration was open to solely a handful of invited visitors, together with important employees and their households.

For many years, tens of hundreds of merrymakers – lots of them vacationers – have crammed the blocks round Times Square on New Year’s Eve, standing for hours within the chilly ready to see the glittering ball glide down a pole mounted atop a skyscraper within the yr’s remaining seconds. When the ball reaches the underside, the crowds erupt in hugs, kisses and good cheer.

Covid-19 infections have surged within the United States in latest days as a consequence of Omicron, which was first detected in November and now accounts for about 73 per cent of circumstances throughout the nation and as many as 90 per cent of circumstances in some areas, such because the US Northeast and Southeast.

New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams, who will take workplace in January, supported the measures introduced on Thursday by Mr de Blasio. Mr Adams mentioned his administration would monitor the state of affairs and take extra precautions within the coming days if wanted.

Earlier this week, Mr Adams mentioned he was suspending his inauguration ceremony, which was set for Jan 1, as a result of rise in circumstances of the Omicron variant.

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