Times Square New Year’s Eve bash to go on despite coronavirus surge, mayor says

Two men putting a "2021" banner into a burning bin
Jonathan Bennett, host of Good Riddance Day, left, and Joe Papa, director of events for the Times Square Alliance, burn a 2021 banner Tuesday in New York.
(Corey Sipkin / Associated Press)

New York City will ring in 2022 in Times Square as planned despite record numbers of coronavirus infections in the city and around the nation, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.

“We want to show that we’re moving forward, and we want to show the world that New York City is fighting our way through this,” De Blasio, whose last day in office is Friday, said on NBC’s “Today” show.

After banning revelers from Times Square a year ago because of the pandemic, city officials previously announced plans for a scaled-back New Year’s bash with smaller crowds and vaccinations required.


While cities such as Atlanta have canceled New Year’s Eve celebrations, De Blasio said New York’s high COVID-19 vaccination rate makes it feasible to welcome masked, socially distanced crowds to watch the ball drop in Times Square. “We’ve got to send a message to the world: New York City is open,” he said.

A sharp spike in COVID cases, fueled in part by the Omicron variant, prompts health experts to urge revelers to scale back New Year’s Eve gatherings.

Dec. 29, 2021

Thanks to the highly contagious Omicron variant that was first identified last month, new coronavirus cases in the U.S. have soared to their highest levels on record at more than 265,000 per day on average. New York City reported a record number of new confirmed cases — more than 39,590 — on Tuesday, according to New York state figures.

De Blasio said the answer is to “double down on vaccinations” and noted that 91% of New York City adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

The city’s next mayor, Eric Adams, will take the oath of office in Times Square early Saturday. Adams, a Democrat like De Blasio, planned a news conference later Thursday to outline his pandemic plan.