New Year’s Eve: NYC reduces crowd size, adds mask rule at Times Square

NEW YORK — Revelers will be able to enjoy the sights and sounds of Times Square when the ball drops to herald 2022, but it will be a much smaller group on New Year’s Eve.

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the traditional gathering at Times Square will be reduced from 58,000 people to 15,000, WABC-TV reported.

In a news release, the mayor said everyone in attendance older than 5 years old must show proof of vaccination and wear a mask, the television station reported.

“New Yorkers have stepped up tremendously over the past year,” de Blasio said in the news release. “We are leading the way on vaccinations, we have reopened safely, and every day we work toward building a recovery for all of us. There is a lot to celebrate, and these additional safety measures will keep the fully vaccinated crowd safe and healthy as we ring in the New Year.”

The added precautions were prompted by the rapid spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant in New York City, The Associated Press reported.

On Tuesday, the city set a one-day record with 17,200 new cases, according to the AP.

“New York is the best place in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve, and now it will be one of the safest against COVID as well,” Mayor-elect Eric Adams said in a statement. “The mayor has made the right move to take precautionary measures as we learn to live with COVID and fight the omicron variant.”

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