New York Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s office said on Thursday that the annual Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration will be “scaled back,” this year. Fewer people will be permitted in the area, and all attendees will be required to wear masks and to show photo identification.

Typically, approximately 58,000 people attend the celebration in viewing areas. However, this year, the number will be limited to 15,000. In addition, people will not be allowed to enter until 3 p.m.

A previous announcement stated that all attendees above the age of five will need to show proof of vaccination, and this regulation still stands. Any unvaccinated children must be chaperoned by a vaccinated adult.

These changes come in the wake of the newest Covid-19 surge, which has been especially prominent in New York City. The omicron variant of the coronavirus has made the deadly virus even more transmissible, which has sparked many institutions to increase health precautions.

Last year, no crowds were allowed in the streets when the iconic ball dropped in Times Square. However, in November, de Blasio said that he planned for the city to once again hold a “big, strong, full strength” celebration. Unfortunately, the new Covid wave has altered these plans.

Eric Adams, who will take the office of mayor on Jan. 1, said that de Blasio “made the right move to take precautionary measures as we learn to live with Covid and fight the Omicron variant.”

“This year’s holiday season may not be the one we had hoped for, but we can still have a happy holiday season,” said city Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi in the news release that updated the New Year protocols. “All New Yorkers should get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible. Wear a quality face mask and stay home if you’re feeling sick, no matter how mild your symptoms.”

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