Unvaccinated People Will Be Banned From Here on Dec. 31
A new vaccine mandate is being set for New Year's Eve.
Over the last few months, officials across the U.S. have issued a number of COVID vaccine mandates to try to mitigate a summer surge brought on by the Delta variant and slowing vaccination rates. These policies seemed to have had an effect: Coronavirus cases had been falling from their summer highs as summer transitioned to fall. Unfortunately, things are once again moving in the wrong direction. Numbers are back on the rise throughout the country, with a 14 percent increase overall in the last two weeks, according to The New York Times. Now, officials are announcing more vaccine mandates to try to stave off the next outbreak.
For some, that will mean adjusting upcoming holiday plans. There is no New Year's Eve celebration quite as notable as the Times Square ball drop in New York City—but this year, only fully vaccinated individuals will be able to attend the event to ring in 2022. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Nov. 16 that proof of vaccination will be required to gather in the Times Square crowd on Dec. 31, effectively barring unvaccinated people, as reported by CNBC.
"We want to welcome all those hundreds of thousands of folks, but everyone needs to be vaccinated," de Blasio said during a news conference, per The New York Times.
Under the new mandate, anyone eligible for vaccination—which includes those ages 5 and older—must show proof of vaccination and a valid photo ID, according to the official Times Square website. Accepted vaccines will include Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, and Sinovac.
There are a few exceptions to this new mandate, however. If you can't get a COVID vaccine because of a disability, you can still attend the celebration, but you must provide proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of arrival. Kids younger than 5 years old can also attend, but they must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult. Anyone who has not shown proof of vaccination must "wear a mask for the entire duration of the event," the guidelines state.
Last year, New York City limited their iconic annual celebration as well. According to Reuters, most of the New Year's Eve festivities were presented virtually, and only a handful of guests were invited to the in-person event. Health care workers and other people on the front lines of the COVID pandemic were part of the much smaller crowd allowed to gather in Times Square last year.
But de Blasio said the celebration will be back "at full strength" this year for vaccinated individuals, according to The New York Times. CNBC reported that there won't be a cap on the 2021 Times Square crowd as a result of the new vaccine mandate.
"Join the crowd, join the joy, join a historic moment as New York City provides further evidence to the world that we are 100 percent back," de Blasio said during the Nov. 16 conference, adding that he purposely made this announcement now with enough time for people to get fully vaccinated before New Year's Eve.
The event can now also draw in people from around the world, as travel restrictions to the U.S. were lifted for vaccinated visitors from other countries on Nov. 8.
"When you're outdoors with a few hundred thousand people packed close together for hours on end, it's a different reality," de Blasio said during the conference. "You're talking about a lot of people really close for long periods of time. It makes sense to protect everyone."