NYPD Planning for New Year’s Eve ‘Contingencies’ at Times Square

NYPD Planning for New Year's Eve 'Contingencies' at Times Square A police officer stands in falling confetti at Times Square A police officer stands in falling confetti at Times Square during the New Year's celebration in New York City on Jan 1, 2020. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Tuesday, 21 December 2021 12:41 PM

An increase in COVID-19 infections could force a scaled-back New Year's Eve celebration at Times Square, the city's police commissioner said Tuesday.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said the department was planning for "multiple contingencies" surrounding the annual ball drop amid the COVID-19 surge.

"I think we're all on a wait-and-see," Shea told NY1. "You know, this is obviously the pandemic that won't go away. I mean, we’re feeling it within the NYPD, as all of New York City is.

"So, we’re gonna be in constant contact with City Hall and when those decisions are made, we’ll … we're planning right now for multiple contingencies."

Shea, who will be replaced by Keechant Sewell on Jan. 1, said NYPD was "in constant contact with City Hall."

The commissioner said the weather and number of officers could help determine the approach to the celebration.

"If we have to scale back, we're not starting from scratch scaling back," Shea told NY1. "We’re already planning for that at the same time. So, we'll be ready to go."

In November, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the Times Square celebration would return to "full strength" for vaccinated attendees. However, de Blasio on Sunday said plans will be revealed by the week's end.

"We’re going to make a decision before Christmas," de Blasio said, the New York Post reported. "We're certainly looking at the new challenges we’re facing, but this is an all-vaccinated event and it is outdoors, and those are two very, very important, favorable factors.

"We’re also considering there’s other ways we can approach it even with current rules that could help to make it even stronger, so there’s a discussion going on. We will have a final decision on what we can do ahead of Christmas, for sure."

The Omicron variant has become the dominant version of the coronavirus in the U.S. It accounted for 73% of new U.S. infections last week, and 92% of cases in New York and New Jersey, the Post said.

The NYPD now is requiring all officers, regardless of their vaccination status, to wear face coverings while on duty, the Post said Monday.