New Year’s Day is the world’s most celebrated holiday. Americans ‘ring in’ the day with gala food and drinks, club hopping and midnight fireworks displays. A few traditions are watching the ‘ball drop’ at Times Square, a special kiss to ward off evil spirits and taking resolutions to follow for the rest of the year. But the new Omicron variant has spread ‘global gloom’ over the celebrations. The Biden administration has emphasized the importance of vaccinations, boosters and rapid testing while New York has made it mandatory to debar unvaccinated employees from businesses. Thousands of flights have already been cancelled and double masks are necessary at supermarkets and public transportation.
Times Square sees pedestrian footfalls as high as 450,000 on the busiest days and December remains the most overcrowded month. But visitors are likely to be four times smaller than the usual due to COVID cases fueled by the Omicron variant. Take a look at a few strict rules you must know before heading out.
Fresh Social Distance Norms
The viewing area crowd at Times Square will be limited to 15,000 as instructed by the city’s Mayor Bill de Blasio. This scaled figure will maintain the required distancing to minimize the Omicron consequences. In 2020 New Years’ Eve, artists like Jennifer Lopez were performing behind the police barricades to control the crowd.
No visitors will be allowed inside the viewing space until 3 pm. This is much later than the previous years. Earlier the mayor had predicted the virus to be a temporary phenomenon that would dissipate within a few weeks. However, Omicron spread rapidly. As of December 23, the city’s average was up about 139% over the averages for the prior 4 weeks, with hospitalizations up by 20%. Make sure to know the restrictions in place for gatherings and reach on time to get a good spot.
Anyone above the age of 5 should be fully vaccinated to enter the vicinity. Carry your ID and a proof of vaccination. A child must be accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult in case he or she has not taken a single dose. A bill is about to be passed in January 2022 in France to create vaccine passes. Only eligible individuals will be allowed to enter public places like bars and movie theatres. The US is also likely to release a digital vaccine pass to verify the status of the doses.
Don’t forget to wear high protection masks. The best ones should have a nose wire, with at least 2-3 layers of material that fits snugly over mouth and chin. Standard surgical masks are the best option. You can also go for the FFP2 and FFP3 ones used by health workers.
You do not have to water down your celebrations. Following the new rules can make New York a safe place for all. The Omicron has gained a foothold in the country but could be brief. Yet the city has been striving to protect public health to ensure a better start to the new year with a good riddance to 2021.