Times Square New Years Eve ball drop being scaled back
NEW YORK - With COVID cases surging, plans for the New Year's Eve ball drop in Times Square are being scaled back.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced new details for the Times Square New Year’s Eve event on Thursday, with additional protections in place.
In addition to requiring proof of full vaccination for anyone over the age of 5, along with valid photo identification and being fully outdoors, attendees will also be required to wear masks.
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Viewing areas will also be filled with fewer people to allow for social distancing.
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Normally hosting approximately 58,000 people in viewing areas, this year’s celebration will host approximately 15,000 people, and visitors won’t be allowed entry until 3 p.m., much later than in past years.
"The health and safety of every guest is the priority of Times Square New Year’s Eve 2022," the mayor stated in a news release.
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The Times Square Alliance will continue to monitor the situation and may take additional precautions and measures in the coming days if needed.
The changes are being made to adapt to the surge in coronavirus rocking the city.
Requirements to attend the worldwide spectacle already included proof of vaccination.
On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said a decision would be made before Christmas on whether to cancel the celebration altogether.
The ball dropped into nearly deserted streets last year due to the pandemic.
"This New Year's Eve, this year, Times Square, everyone come on down, we're celebrating," said Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this month. "Join the crowd. Join the joy. Join the historic moment."
New Year's Eve 2022
The Times Square Alliance is in charge of the event. It traditionally does a confetti test a few days before New Year's Eve and does a ball drop test before the big day, as well.
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The organizers of the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square called the 2020 event "virtually enhanced" with just a few dignitaries at the event.
"We expect a large, wonderful celebration. We're going to have some clear smart rules to keep everyone safe," de Blasio said.