Americans are again facing a stay-at-home New Year’s Eve as U.S. political leaders and health advisers urge people to scrap party plans and avoid larger public events as daily Covid cases break previous records. As recently as last month, before Omicron made headlines, outgoing New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was still pushing for a smaller Times Square celebration.
Attendance at the outdoor party known as the Ball Drop has been capped at 15,000, down from pre-pandemic 60,000, with organizers encouraging revelers to watch it on TV or online. As of Thursday, the reduced crowd was still expected, even on the same day New York reported its highest number of new virus cases ever.
De Blasio said the city would scale back on the Ball Drop even more while still requiring the reduced crowd of attendees to be fully vaccinated and wear masks. But there were some changes to the night’s itinerary. Incoming New York mayor Eric Adams canceled his inauguration party as his predecessor sees his last New Year’s Eve party severely diminished.
* Cancel the Times Square New Years celebration.
* Send every NYC family at least three at-home covid tests for every kid they have in school BEFORE schools open. Meaning RIGHT NOW.
— Greg Pak (@gregpak) December 30, 2021
While some other cities are also scaling back, others have canceled all public events. In Chicago, 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”. Seattle has decided to go ahead with fireworks from the Space Needle and Las Vegas plans an eight-minute fireworks display along the Strip. Health experts and officials have explained that Las Vegas’s celebrations take place across the city – not in a tightly-packed area.
Given this context, it’s incredible that NYC is using its resources to have a NYE celebration in Times Square, complete with the new mayor being sworn in. When similar madness plays out in red states, y’all tweet shit like “that’s why people in Kentucky and Texas deserve to die.” pic.twitter.com/AFgQUbFBtR
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) December 30, 2021
Elsewhere, San Francisco has canceled 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 canceled its Peach Drop, where, for 30 years, revelers have gathered to watch a glittering fake peach descend to the ground.
— Tara Dublin (Taylor's Version) (@taradublinrocks) December 29, 2021
The Biden administration’s top health adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, recently advised that a small limited gathering with vaccinated family members would be the safest way to celebrate. “If your plans are to go to a 40-to-50 person New Year’s Eve party with all the bells and whistles and everybody hugging and kissing and wishing each other a happy new year – I would strongly recommend that, this year, we do not do that,” Dr. Fauci said during a White House update on the pandemic on Wednesday.
Fox News loves to pretend that recommendations from Fauci are akin to dictates from a totalitarian ruler pic.twitter.com/unGXlNyVv8
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 30, 2021