In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the threat of the Omicron variant, New York City is hosting a “scaled back” version of the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop.
The beloved annual New Year’s Eve celebration in New York City will take place with some additional safety precautions in place, such as masking and vaccination requirements.
The event, which normally hosts around 58,000 people in viewing areas, will be limited to 15,000 guests this year to allow for adequate social distancing. Visitors will also be denied access to the viewing areas until 3:00 p.m. local time, which is much later than in previous years, according to a statement issued by the mayor’s office on Thursday.
“We are leading the way on vaccinations, we have reopened safely, and every day we work toward building a recovery for all of us,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “There’s a lot to celebrate, and these extra precautions will keep the fully vaccinated crowd safe and healthy as we ring in the New Year,” the mayor added.
The official Times Square website states that the celebration will begin shortly before 6 p.m. ET.
The Times Square New Year’s Eve ball will be raised to the top of the pole at One Times Square around 6 p.m. ET (Broadway at 43rd Street).
The ball will then make its 60-second descent down the flagpole to ring in the New Year at exactly 11:59 p.m. ET.
Viewers can watch the event live in person, on television, or online via various channels.
Those attending the ball drop in person must wear face coverings and show valid photo identification as well as proof of “full vaccination” against COVID-19.
This means that the guest must be “at least 14 days after their second dose of a two dose COVID-19 vaccine or at least 14 days after their single dose of an approved single dose COVID-19 vaccine” on December 31, 2021.
Those who are unable to get vaccinated due to a disability must show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the ball drop event, according to the mayor’s office.
To attend the event in person, all guests must enter from either Sixth or Eighth Avenue. Police will close off the blocks as they fill up northward, street by street.
The precise times when the blocks will be closed to pedestrian and vehicular traffic will be determined by the arrival of visitors. Previously, vehicle traffic from 45th Street to 48th Street in Times Square was closed by early morning, and by 3 p.m. local time, the streets between Sixth and Eighth Avenue were closed from 42nd Street to 49th Street.
Visitors will not be able to return to Times Square after leaving the event for any reason, according to the Times Square website.
A portion of the Times Square celebration will be aired on several television networks. The Times Square website has more information on the New Year’s Eve television broadcast pool feed.
The event, which will include the raising of the ball, live music performances, and hourly countdowns, will be available via a commercial-free webcast from 6 p.m. ET on December 31 to 12:15 a.m. ET on January 1, 2022.
Three years later, in 1907, the first New Year’s Eve Ball lowering celebration took place atop One Times Square. Since then, seven versions of the Ball have been designed to signal the New Year.
Last year’s event witnessed numerals standing seven-feet high and weighed 1,080 pounds.
More than one ton of confetti drops in Times Square during the most recent New Year’s Eve celebration.