Times Square New Year’s Eve crowd will be scaled back

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After concerns about the rise in omicron coronavirus cases, New York City officials have scaled back the traditional Times Square celebration.

The event, which can attract upwards of 58,000 people in the official viewing areas, will be scaled back to just 15,000, under a quarter of its normal levels.

Another change is that visitors will only be allowed into the area starting at 3 p.m. on a first come, first served basis. Once revelers are inside their designated viewing area, they cannot leave and return for any reason, including using the restroom.

Visitors will still be required to remain masked during the event and everyone over 5 must present proof of vaccination. Children under 5 will be permitted, but must be accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult.

During 2020, Times Square was mostly closed to the public, with a limited audience of first responders serving as the audience for the festivities, which were significantly scaled back.

News media will still be permitted in Times Square, including atop the broadcast towers that provide sweeping views of the (smaller) crowds.

The Fox broadcast network already canceled plans to produce a live, outdoor special from Times Square, while CNN faced some criticisms for its “the crowds are back” promo for its special.