NEW YORK – Despite a scaled-back New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square this year due to COVID-19, the NYPD on Thursday ensured those attending the event will be protected.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and members of the NYPD discussed security plans during a press briefing Thursday.
There are no current threats to New York City, but the city remains a target to terrorist groups, police officials said.
NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes advised everyone to take public transportation beginning 4 a.m. on Thursday.
In Manhattan, 38th to 59th streets between Fifth and Ninth avenues will be closed to vehicular traffic, according to Holmes.
Large bags, lawn chairs and alcohol will be prohibited at the viewing areas, she added.
Additionally, ambassadors and officers will be on site to escort anyone who lives in or works in buildings around the area. They must provide proof of a reservation or proof they work or live in closed off sections.
NYPD Chief of Intelligence Thomas Galati said officers will be stationed across the event area, as well as throughout hotels and venues in Times Square.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week additional protections to make sure the event would be safe amid a surge in COVID cases.
The viewing areas normally hold around 58,000 people, but this year only around 15,000 people will be allowed to attend to allow for social distancing.
Guests also won’t be allowed to enter until 3 p.m., which is later than in previous years.
They’ll need to bring proof of full vaccination with valid photo identification. Attendees will also be required to wear masks.
Like many New Yorkers, the NYPD has also been affected by the COVID spike.
Thousands of NYPD officers have called out sick due to COVID. Acting Chief of Department David Barrere told PIX11 News on Wednesday the NYPD was making adjustments as the sick calls rolled in.
Roughly 6,600 NYPD employees called out sick on Tuesday — about 20% of the department’s workforce. Of those, 3,000 were officers with flu-like symptoms and about 1,500 were positive for COVID.
As a result, the NYPD sent out a memo telling all uniformed officers who are regularly off on Friday and Saturday that they must report to their respective commands for assignment.
The decision was made to provide adequate police coverage for the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square as well as badly needed coverage in precincts throughout the city, according to the NYPD memo.