It’s official. Times Square will be welcoming back hundreds of thousands of people to ring in the New Year.
“A big, strong, full strength celebration. It’s coming back,” Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed Tuesday. “This Near Year’s Eve, Times Square, everyone come on down, we’re celebrating.”
Last year, only select essential workers and special guests watched the ball drop in person from socially distanced pens. This year, spectators will be allowed to return — with proof of vaccination.
“We will require spectators five and older who are eligible to be fully vaccinated. If you are unable to get vaccinated because of a disability, we will require proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours,” said Times Square Alliance President Tom Harris. “Those under five must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult, and anyone unable to get vaccinated must wear a mask if able to do so.”
“The rational for being fully vaccinated in that setting is to markedly reduce the risk of transmission, which we know can occur outdoors even though the risk is lower,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi added.
Many New Yorkers and tourists CBS2’s John Dias spoke with said this is yet another sign the city is bouncing back strong.
“It’s just an amazing night,” Jolie Mizen told Dias on her visit from London.
Mizen last rang in the New Year in Times Square back in 2015. The London resident said she is now thinking about returning to the Big Apple to celebrate again.
“I’ve done San Francisco, I’ve done Australia, I’ve done London, and this has to be the best one,” she said.
But with the pandemic still not over, some anxiously questioned if this is the right way to ring in the New Year.
“It can be difficult at times to make sure that everybody has got vaccination,” said Matt Jones.
“If they’re going to do a typical New Year’s where people are packed in there, I don’t see how that’s not going to be a super spreader,” Patricia Rodriguez added.
The president of the Times Square Alliance attributed the return of the celebration and popularity of Times Square to vaccines.
“Our pedestrian count is up more than 50%,” Harris said.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said he is confident the NYPD will be ready to serve and protect as the ball drops. Right now, there are no credible threats.
“A lot of police officers and detectives out there, you’ll have counterterrorism overlays,” he said.
No tickets will be needed for the celebration. The mayor still hasn’t said exactly how the city will monitor the vaccination status of everyone coming, but that is expected to be released in the coming days, along with the full lineup of performers.
This story was originally published by CBS New York on Nov. 16, 2021 at 2:45 p.m. ET.