NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – New York City still plans to hold an in-person New Year’s Eve bash in Times Square as it continues to monitor the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.
“We are continuing with the plans,” the mayor told 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa when asked if the annual celebration—which was closed to the public last year because of the pandemic—is still expected to return with the customary crowds to ring in 2022.
The mayor emphasized that revelers planning to attend the event must show proof of vaccination. He also suggested things could change in the weeks ahead.
“Now it’s literally a month away as of today, so we’re basing that on the information we have now,” de Blasio said. “We are going to have it be vaccination only, and we anticipate being able to have a really important celebration as we move this city forward.”
“Now we’re watching omicron too,” he added. “And we’re watching the whole picture with delta [variant] and everything else. If something changes that makes us want to modify the approach, we’re going to alert people right away. But at this moment, it’s the approach we’ve outlined.”
De Blasio announced last month that hundreds of thousands of people can be in attendance to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. Spectators must show proof of full vaccination and a valid photo ID.
The mayor said Wednesday that his office is working with the Times Square Alliance and NYPD on how vaccination cards and IDs will be checked at entry points to Times Square.
Much remains unknown about the omicron variant, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it makes people more seriously ill and whether it can thwart vaccines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a Tuesday statement that it was working toward requiring that all air travelers to the U.S. be tested for COVID-19 within a day before boarding their flight. Currently those who are fully vaccinated may present a test taken within three days of boarding.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.