NEW YORK — New York City will move ahead with its 2022 New Year's celebration in Times Square despite record numbers of COVID-19 infections in the city and around the nation.
After banning revelers from Times Square a year ago due to the pandemic, city officials announced plans previously for a scaled-back New Year's bash with smaller crowds and vaccinations required.
The city said it would limit the number of people to witness a 6-ton, crystal-encrusted ball descend from above a crowd of about 15,000 in-person spectators. The expected crowd is far fewer than the 50,000 revelers initially envisioned by organizers.
De Blasio said on NBC's "Today" show on Thursday that he wants to show the world that the city is "fighting our way through this."
The city's next mayor, Eric Adams, will take the oath of office in Times Square shortly after the ball drops.
Doubts swirled whether the city would have to cancel this year's bash, as the city posted record numbers of COVID cases in the days leading to it, even as some cities like Atlanta had decided to cancel their own celebrations.
In many places around the world, plans for New Year's Eve celebrations are muted or canceled due to the highly contagious omicron variant.
New Zealand was one of the first places to celebrate the new year with a low-key lights display projected onto Auckland landmarks, including the Sky Tower and Harbor Bridge.
Australia, too, went ahead with celebrations, including the iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House fireworks despite an explosion in cases.
So far, at least, the omicron surge hasn't resulted in the same levels of hospitalizations and deaths as previous outbreaks — especially among vaccinated people — offering a glimmer of hope for 2022.