Police officials said Thursday there were no credible threats to the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, but revelers should expect multiple layers of screening with the hyper-contagious omicron variant spurring extra steps of protection to safely ring in 2022.
“Normally at this, we talk about safety, we talk about threats and there are no independent threats, there are no credible threats and that’s right off the top, but this year is a little different. In addition to safety, we are going to talk about health and what we want,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a press conference Thursday.
“We want everyone to come out. Most importantly, we want people to be safe and healthy.”
The recent dramatic surge in coronavirus cases due to the new variant has led to Mayor Bill de Blasio capping the crowd size at 15,000 — down from nearly 60,000 before the pandemic — and requiring anyone who arrives to wear a mask.
Guests were already required to be vaccinated to attend the celebration.
“We are adding one layer to an already perfect system that the police department has worked on years and years out,” said Tom Harris, senior vice president at the Times Square Alliance. “We will have vaccination checkers. We will check ID and vaccination status and make sure people have masks on.
“If people don’t have masks, we will be providing for them.”
The NYPD has already taken steps to staff the force for the holiday bash with the omicron variant forcing a more than 17 percent of patrol out sick.
“The picture right now in New York City is we are in good shape here in Times Square as well as the rest of the City,” said Acting Chief of Department David Barrere about the current staffing levels.
Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes “strongly” suggested” that people use public transit till at least 4 a.m. if they plan on coming and going around the area with the number of street closings near the tourist attraction.