Return of New Year’s Eve in Times Square is worrisome


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Parvesh Rudher

Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that Times Square will open for New Year’s Eve celebrations in full-force this year, with people from all over the country and international travelers able to attend if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, this may lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases if individuals are not careful and if there is not proper aftermath control the fallout may be unpredictable.

After last year’s precaution-filled New Year’s Eve, with only a few hundred frontline workers invited to watch the ball drop, de Blasio hopes to show the world that New York City has been restored to its previous glory.

“We want to welcome all those hundreds of thousands of folks, but everyone needs to be vaccinated,” de Blasio said. “Join the crowd, join the joy, join a historic moment as New York City provides further evidence to the world that we are 100% back.”

De Blasio has also stressed the importance of requiring all those attending this year’s festivities to be vaccinated,and he is working with health officials to assure the safety of those attending.

The New York Police Department will have security checkpoints in Times Square to check the required documentation of attendees.

Bringing back such a large gathering for the New Year’s Eve celebration will have dangers associated with it, including the fear that COVID-19 cases may increase after the event.

As this is de Blasio’s final act as mayor, Mayor-elect Eric Adams will have to face the end-of-year celebration’s consequences.

With the increased population attending the New Year’s Eve festivities, the potential aftermath is not limited to the confines of New York City.

Experts note that travelers from all over the country, as well as international travelers who are now allowed to visit the United States, may have the possibility of spreading the virus.

“There will be people coming from places that don’t have much Covid going on right now,” Dennis Nash said. “We need to be thinking about seeding, outbreaks and spread, not just in our own backyards but everywhere.”

The danger of more cases spreading abroad as people return home must be taken seriously, as travelers may be carriers of the virus even if they have been vaccinated. It is especially likely among those people who will not be vaccinated and attend the celebration.

With the dangers of bringing more people together, international travelers who may be coming from countries with high or low rates of the virus can also impact the severity of the aftermath because officials regulating the event do not know how many people may be carriers experiencing asymptomatic symptoms.

As the number of cases per day has been increasing in New York City with a 53% increase over the past two weeks, this increasing trend may be a sign of future problems in the days following the celebration.

Whether or not the NYPD will fulfill its duty to the proper extent is also a concern, as many police officers fought against de Blasio’s vaccine mandate for city employees. Many question whether there will be any modifications in place to deter the NYPD from any personal ideologies they may have.

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said that de Blasio’s plans for this year’s New Year’s Eve celebrations seemed “very reasonable.”

Even pointing to previous events, such as the Halloween and the Veterans Day parade and lollapalooza, where there were exceptionally large gatherings and everyone needed to be vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 test. There is evidence that there is little to no spread of the virus.

According to Tom Harris, the president of the Times Square Alliance, foot traffic for Times Square has been up 50% over the last few months, with over 270,000 people visiting Times Square on Nov. 13.

This success in reviving the seemingly dead Times Square is believed to be a result of large percentages of people being vaccinated, being more confident in traveling and visiting the city once again.

The Times Square Alliance has stated that it is working tirelessly with city health officials and the de Blasio administration to welcome back travelers safely with set precautions in place.

By continuing to research and take precautions, the de Blasio administration should have a fail-safe set in place if cases once again spread rapidly in New York City, especially after the holidays.