New York Metropolis will cut back the Instances Sq. New Yr’s Eve celebration because the Omicron variant spreads, Mayor Invoice de Blasio introduced on Thursday, the identical day New York state reported its highest recorded every day coronavirus case complete ever.
The mayor added that officers had been nonetheless monitoring the state of affairs and will take extra precautions within the coming days, if wanted.
As of now, attendees will probably be required to indicate proof of full vaccination and put on masks. Fewer individuals — 15,000, as an alternative of the same old 58,000 — will probably be allowed in designated viewing areas, to make social distancing extra potential. Guests is not going to be allowed in till about 3 p.m., later than previous years.
The number of cases in the city reported over the past week is the best because the begin of the pandemic, although testing was severely restricted in its early days.
Almost 39,000 new circumstances had been reported statewide on Thursday, about 10,000 greater than on Wednesday, with almost 23,000 of them in New York Metropolis. Greater than 60 % of circumstances reported by New York State to the genetic monitoring database GISAID within the final two weeks had been of the Omicron variant, in line with the governor’s workplace.
The city’s seven-day average test positivity rate was 11 % as of Tuesday, and there have been hourslong waits for assessments at many websites across the metropolis.
Additionally, Thursday the band Phish, which frequently performs New Yr’s Eve concert events at Madison Sq. Backyard, postponed its upcoming run of shows, together with a three-set efficiency initially deliberate for New Yr’s Eve.
A short time earlier than making the Instances Sq. announcement, at an unrelated occasion in Park Slope, Mr. de Blasio insisted that the rise in virus circumstances would subside quickly and that shutdowns weren’t crucial. He mentioned town’s technique of incentivizing vaccines and boosters and implementing strict vaccine mandates would suffice.
“It’s going to be a tricky few weeks, however it can solely be a number of weeks,” he mentioned, including, “We aren’t falling again. We’re going to struggle our method by way of this.”
Well being consultants had been divided concerning the New Yr’s Eve resolution. Denis Nash, a professor of epidemiology on the CUNY Faculty of Public Well being, mentioned that he didn’t assume it was a good suggestion to carry the occasion.
“We’re in the midst of a pandemic with an enormous surge of a brand new variant whose threat we’re nonetheless actually understanding, and I don’t assume we need to let it amplify,” he mentioned.
He added that he was involved that individuals visiting New York from different states and international locations might decide up the variant and produce it dwelling with them.
“Since New York is a world metropolis and related to all over the place, we’ve to be fascinated with these locations too,” Dr. Nash mentioned.
However Ashish Okay. Jha, dean of the Brown College Faculty of Public Well being, mentioned that he was “actually happy” that the mayor selected to not cancel, noting the vaccine mandate and including that the virus typically doesn’t transmit effectively open air.
“The entire nation watches this, so I believe psychologically it’s crucial for the nation to have a way that we are able to do these items once more and that we are able to do them safely,” Dr. Jha mentioned.
Town mentioned Thursday that spectators over 5 years outdated should have obtained each doses, if relevant, of an F.D.A. or World Well being Group-approved vaccine at the very least 14 days earlier than Dec. 31.
The ball drop will happen on Mr. de Blasio’s final day in workplace, marking the tip of his eight-year tenure. Mayor-elect Eric Adams mentioned in an announcement on Thursday that Mr. de Blasio “made the suitable transfer to take precautionary measures as we study to stay with Covid and struggle the Omicron variant.”
Tom Harris, president of the Instances Sq. Alliance, mentioned the 15,000 quantity referred particularly to individuals who can be allowed into viewing pens. The pens will probably be diminished in quantity and can solely be stuffed to about 25 % capability, he mentioned.
A better variety of individuals typically watch the ball drop from the encompassing space, together with from resorts, eating places and workplace buildings.
“We’re actually enthusiastic about welcoming revelers again,” he mentioned. “Security is our precedence and we really feel an outside occasion with totally vaccinated, masked individuals in a much less dense setting is about as protected as we might get.”
Grace Ashford contributed reporting.