Health & Fitness

New York City weighs fresh restrictions for Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration

Teresa Hui, 40, of Brooklyn, wears 2022 numeral glasses and a face mask in Times Square ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 20, 2021.

Andrew Kelly | Reuters

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is weighing whether to impose more safety restrictions on the city’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square.

“We’re looking to add additional measures to make it even safer. We’re still in discussion. The goal, of course, is to keep it going,” de Blasio said in an interview Wednesday morning on CNN.

On Wednesday, the mayor and his health advisors announced they are opening seven new city-run Covid testing centers and five new city-run centers that will hand out at-home rapid test kits.

The New Year’s Eve celebration requires all attendees, unless they have a medical exemption, to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks beforehand, which would have been Friday. It doesn’t require booster doses or masks for vaccinated people. The mayor said he’ll announce any changes by Christmas.

The annual party comes as New York City grapples with a major uptick in Covid-19 cases. More than 9% of people in the city who got tested for Covid had the virus as of Saturday. The so-called positivity rate, which shows the level of infection in an area, almost doubled in one week, according to the New York City Health Department’s most recent data.

“If we need to make any other modifications, obviously, working very closely with our health-care leaders, we’ll decide that in the course this week, we’ll announce it before Christmas,” de Blasio told reporters at a news conference Monday.

The Times Square Alliance, which organizes the New Year’s Eve ball drop, said it was working with the city and hoped to announce any changes before Christmas.

Last year, the city and the Times Square Alliance held a fully masked New Year’s celebration without the huge crowds revelers are used to seeing.

CNBC Health & Science

City officials hoped to have a more normal, though fully vaccinated, celebration this year after the Biden administration launched a massive inoculation campaign over the last year. New York state has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country with just more than 71% of its residents fully immunized against Covid, compared with some 62% of the U.S. population.

Now, as the new omicron variant rages through the city, certain live performances and Broadway shows have been canceled, like Radio City Music Hall’s “Christmas Spectacular” featuring the Rockettes.

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