The Times Square ball drop in New York City is back — but people don’t seem to care

Nov 17, 2021

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New York City will once again bring in the new year in a big way: The infamous Times Square ball drop.

But before you don your coat, gloves and stand in the freezing cold with tens of thousands of other humans, know that the annual ball drop will look a little different this year. Amid the ongoing pandemic, New York City will require people attending the New Years’ Eve festivities in Times Square to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced.

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Revelers 5 years old or over must present proof of a COVID-19 vaccination approved by the FDA or World Health Organization to enter. People unable to be vaccinated because of a disability must show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to the event, and they’ll also be required to wear a mask.

“We want to welcome all those hundreds of thousands of folks, but everyone needs to be vaccinated,” de Blasio said. “Join the crowd, join the joy, join a historic moment as New York City provides further evidence to the world that we are 100% back.”

The ball drop will conclude a year that saw New York City fully reopen back to residents and tourists. De Blasio said back in April it would be “the summer of New York City,” and there would be no restrictions on restaurants, shops, businesses or theaters. Broadway officially returned at full capacity in September. Restaurants and bars also reopened, first with capacity limits and then with fewer restrictions. And subway ridership has been steadily hitting the over 3 million passenger mark (but is still down compared to pre-pandemic days).

However, the city has also faced its share of setbacks, largely due to the highly-transmissible delta variant.

For instance, New York City became the first U.S. city to mandate proof of vaccination for indoor dining as a result of the variant. It also faced backlash from city employees for its vaccination requirement. (According to de Blasio, the New York City Police Department will take the lead on verifying COVID-19 vaccination credentials, even as the force pushed back on a vaccination mandate for city workers.)

But even with the annual celebration coming back in person, people largely don’t seem to care. When I asked several of my TPG colleagues whether they’d attend — even those outside of the New York metro area — the vast majority responded with aversion.

“I think even the people who say they enjoy it don’t actually enjoy it,” TPG senior reporter David Slotnick responded.

Other staffers say there are logistical issues to contend with.

“The lack of access to a bathroom really makes it a non-starter for me, but I do like cheesy stuff like that,” said TPG reporter Caroline Tanner.

If watching the ball drop from the center of Times Square is absolutely not on your bucket list, there are other ways to watch the festivities up close (and out of the elements). Here are several hotel options with prime views — some of which can offer a great value to travelers who can use points to avoid the inflated holiday rates.

Featured photo by boneman/Twenty20

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