Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that Times Square will welcome fully vaccinated people back on New Year’s Eve to ring in 2022 with what will be the largest public celebration during the COVID-19 pandemic to date.
According to de Blasio, hundreds of thousands are expected to attend the “big, strong, full-strength celebration.” However, he said, every guest will be required to adhere to strict vaccination protocols to curb the transmission of COVID-19.
Any attendee aged 5 and older will be required to show proof of full vaccination to join the festivities on Dec. 31; children under 5 years old must be accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult. Face coverings are also required for unvaccinated minors who are medically able to wear one.
To be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in time for New Year’s Eve, any attendee not previously vaccinated will need to have received either the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or the second shot of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna versions, by no later than Dec. 16; it takes two weeks after the dosage in order for the body to build full immunity.
Attendees who are unable to get vaccinated because of a medical disability will be required to show proof of a negative COVID PCR test taken within 72 hours before the event.
The celebration will be easily accessible online with a six-hour, commercial-free live stream for those unable to attend.
According to Thomas Harris, the president of the Times Square Alliance, over 270,000 people visited Times Square last Saturday. Over the past few months, visitation has increased by 50 percent. Harris attributes this success to safe vaccination efforts.
“These last few months showed us that we need to all do our part,” Harris said. “Last year, we were able to celebrate in Times Square with a limited audience. This year we’re working with medical experts to create the safest environment we can so that more people can enjoy the magic of being in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.”
Each year, attendees go through a security checkpoint before entering Times Square, where vaccination cards will be examined for the 2022 celebration.
De Blasio defended the decision to require vaccinations even though the event is outside, because of the anticipated large gathering in tight quarters in Times Square.
“Large numbers of people, in very close proximity for long periods of time,” de Blasio said. “I think it’s really clear why vaccination is called for.”
Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, agreed with de Blasio.
“Anyone who has spent New Year’s Eve in Times Square knows that it’s very difficult to maintain distance,” Chokshi said. “The rationale for being fully vaccinated in that setting is to reduce the risk of transmission, which we know can occur outdoors even though the risk is lower. But, because the risk is greater with larger numbers of people in close proximity, this is the right decision.”
More information will be announced in the coming weeks on the Times Square website.