New York Cutting Back On Times Square Crowd For New Year’s Eve Over COVID Spike

New York City is cutting back on the size of the crowd allowed to view its famous New Year’s Eve ball drop at Times Square because of a record spike in COVID-19 cases in the city, and it’s requiring everyone be fully vaccinated — and masked.

A maximum of only 15,000 people, instead of the typical 58,000, will be allowed to gather in the outdoor designated viewing areas to watch the countdown to 2022, and all will be required to show proof of vaccination. The event has drawn more than 1 million revelers in past years.

Only a few hundred people — largely city officials and health care workers — gathered to watch the ball drop to ring in 2021.

“There’s a lot to celebrate, and the additional safety measures … will keep the fully vaccinated crowd at Times Square safe and healthy as we ring in the New Year,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement on Thursday.

A record number of COVID-19 cases in the state and city has triggered a new round of shutdowns of some schools, restaurants, Broadway plays and even the Rockettes’ famous Christmas show.

The state reported a record of 39,000 cases on Thursday. The number of cases the city reported over the past week is also the highest since the start of the pandemic.

So far, hospitalizations and deaths have not kept pace with the cases, but hospitals are beginning to be overwhelmed.

“The mayor has made the right move to take precautionary measures as we learn to live with Covid and fight the omicron variant,” said Mayor-elect Eric Adams. He has decided to forego his inauguration celebration, which had been scheduled for a 3,000-capacity theater in Brooklyn.

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