State Watch

New Year’s Eve in Times Square to be largely virtual amid pandemic

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Organizers of the annual New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square announced in a press release Wednesday that the 2020 festivities will be mostly virtual in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The evening will include a limited number of individuals in-person to “reflect on the themes, challenges and inspirations of 2020,” according to the press release. 

One thing that will never change is the ticking of time and the arrival of a New Year at midnight on Dec. 31,” Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, said in a statement.

“But this year there will be significantly new and enhanced virtual, visual and digital offerings to complement whatever limited live entertainment or experiences — still in development — will take place in Times Square,” he added.

Tompkins added that “because any opportunity to be live in Times Square will be pre-determined and extremely limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will be the opportunity to participate virtually wherever you are.” 

Jamestown Properties, which owns One Time Square, will provide a “virtual world of Times Square” through a widely-available app in an effort to give users the ability to experience the famous ball drop. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) praised the decision to hold the majority of the New Year’s Eve celebrations virtually, saying that event organizers devised a “safe, creative and innovative way for all of us to continue to celebrate this century-old tradition.” 

These plans come a month after the customary 9/11 blue light tribute in New York City was initially canceled due to concerns that COVID-19 could be spread among workers installing the lights at the location of the World Trade Center.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) later reversed the decision, announcing that same week they would be continuing the tradition after criticism over its cancellation. 

New York has seen a large and consistent reprieve from the coronavirus pandemic after it was one of the first states hit hardest by the virus in March and April.

According to The New York Times, the state has had an average of 788 new cases per day in the past week, compared to around 9,700 in mid-April. 

Tags Andrew Cuomo Bill de Blasio coronavirus covid-19 New Year's Eve New York New York City times square
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