Published on : Friday, December 31, 2021
The Americans are again facing a stay-at-home New Year’s Eve as US political leaders and health advisers urge people to scrap New Year’s Party plans and avoid larger public events as daily Covid-19 cases break previous records.
In New York, attendance at the Times Square celebration known as the Ball Drop – in essence, tens of thousands of people watching a 12ft geodesic sphere inlaid with Waterford crystal descend a long pole – has been capped at 15,000, down from pre-pandemic 60,000, with organizers encouraging revellers to watch it on TV or online.
The scaling back comes as the incoming New York Mayor, Eric Adams, cancelled his inauguration party, and the outgoing mayor. Bill de Blasio, sees his last New Year’s Eve party severely diminished. As recently as last month, before Omicron made headlines, de Blasio was at an end of a two-term party mood.
But recently – on the same day New York reported its highest number of new virus cases ever – De Blasio said the city would scale back its New Year’s Eve event.
The attendees must be fully vaccinated and wear masks. The changes are meant to “keep the fully vaccinated crowd safe and healthy as we ring in the new year”, the mayor said in a statement.
In Chicago, the Illinois governor, Jay Pritzker, has not yet imposed restrictions or shut down the city’s traditional fireworks show. But he warned Chicagoans this week that “Omicron and Delta are coming to your party”.
San Francisco has cancelled its fireworks show over the Bay for the second year in a row. Mayor London Breed told residents that “we must remain vigilant in doing all we can to stop the spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant”.
Atlanta, too, has cancelled its Peach Drop, where, for 30 years, revellers have gathered to watch a glittering fake peach descend to the ground.