New Year’s Eve will look a little more normal this year in New York City after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to be in Times Square for the iconic ball drop.
Last year’s celebration had a limited crowd due to COVID-19 precautions, with space reserved mostly for first responders in socially distant pods. But de Blasio, along with Times Square Alliance, said the celebration to kick off 2022 will have full attendance this year.
“A big, strong full strength celebration. It’s coming back this New Year’s Eve in Time Square,” de Blasio said during a news conference. “Hundreds of thousands of people there to celebrate. We can finally get back together again, it’s going to be amazing. It’s going to be a joy for the city.”
Those age 5 and older will have to provide proof of vaccination along with a valid photo ID to be admitted to the viewing area. Those under the age of 5 unable to receive the vaccine must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult and they must wear a face covering at all times.
If someone over the age of 5 is not vaccinated because of a disability, they must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior, as well as wear a face covering.
“We want to welcome all those hundreds of thousands of folks, but everyone needs to be vaccinated,” de Blasio said. “Join the crowd, join the joy, join a historic moment as New York City provides further evidence to the world that we are 100% back.”
The ball drop has occurred every year in the city since 1907, except in 1942-43 when New York City had a “dimout” throughout the city due to World War II. On New Year’s Eve, the ball will be raised at 6 p.m. ET, and events such as live musical performances will take place in Times Square leading up to midnight.
Tom Harris, president of the Times Square Alliance, said the organization is working with medical experts for guidance and health protocols. Typically there are over 1 million people in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
“Broadway’s back and has already welcomed more than a million visitors. International travelers are back and we’re happy to work with (de Blasio) to safely welcome revelers back to Times Square on New Year’s Eve,” Harris said.
The New Year’s Eve celebration is one of many iconic holiday events making its return this year. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is expected to be back to its pre-pandemic form this year.
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