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What is happening in Times Square tonight in a COVID-19 New Year?

New York and Las Vegas prepare for a COVID-19 New Year’s Eve celebration.

In this Dec. 31, 2016, file photo, sanitation trucks block a street leading to Times Square where the New Year’s Eve celebration takes place, in New York.
In this Dec. 31, 2016, file photo, sanitation trucks block a street leading to Times Square where the New Year’s Eve celebration takes place, in New York.
Peter Morgan, Associated Press

The New Year’s Eve celebrations across the country will be a little different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic — but that isn’t stopping Las Vegas and New York from having COVID-safe parties.

So what will happen in New York?

The ball drop in Times Square in New York is one of the more iconic New Year’s Eve moments in the United States, and it is still happening despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The New York Times reports that Times Square will be closed to the public on New Year’s Eve for the first time in decades. Dozens of front-line workers and their families will be honored on stages at the event, though.
  • Camera shots for the event will include close-ups of front-line workers near the stage. They will be wearing masks, though.

Officials told The New York Times they will ask people to move along if they start to gather on corners near Times Square around midnight.

What about Las Vegas?

Las Vegas often has major parties for New Year’s Eve, too. So what will things look like during the pandemic?

There won’t be an annual New Year’s Eve fireworks show on the Las Vegas Strip. However, fireworks will go off in downtown Las Vegas from the Plaza Hotel & Casino, though, according to KLAS. Local news stations will provide a glimpse of the fireworks.

Officials said they’re worried the fireworks event at the Plaza will turn into a super spreader event, according to The Associated Press.

  • “I understand that on New Year’s Eve, particularly in Las Vegas, it’ll be difficult to prevent the organic gatherings of people. That’s why it’s critical that businesses and leaders are vocal about the risks. But to organize and promote a gathering with a ticket, or a fee, as if it’s business as usual, that’s just plain irresponsible,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said at a Wednesday news conference.

Fremont Street will offer an experience that will be similar to previous years but with less entertainment. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Fremont Street will work as a pedestrian walkway for those 21 years old and up. Those who want to visit casinos there will need to pay a fee and go under a security screening, which includes “clear bag policy, bag checks, ID scans, screening through metal detectors and a COVID-19 assessment,” according to the Review-Journal.

There will be no live entertainment or live bands there, though.

Can you watch from home?

There will be a livestream of the event on the Times Square website, timessquarenyc.org, as well as on Times Square’s official Facebook and Twitter pages, as the Deseret News reported.