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New Year's Eve celebration 'coming back full strength,' de Blasio says

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that Times Square will be open to vaccinated revelers on New Year's Eve after being closed last year due to the pandemic. Credit: NY Mayor's Office

It's auld lang syne, with a vaccine mandate.

Times Square’s New Year’s Eve festivities are returning to the pre-pandemic tradition to usher in 2022 — although revelers must show proof of full vaccination for entry, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.

Both proof and corresponding ID will be inspected at checkpoints where, as in years past, revelers are also checked for weapons and other contraband.

"We want to welcome all those hundreds of thousands of folks, but everyone needs to be vaccinated," de Blasio said. "All you need to do is have that proof of vaccination and a valid photo ID, and you are in. Join the crowd. Join the joy. Join a historic moment as New York City."

There’s an exception to the mandate for those who can't get the vaccine for documented medical reasons; Anyone in that category must also show proof of a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours and then wear a face mask as well, said Tom Harris, the head of the Times Square Alliance, speaking at de Blasio's daily news conference.

Those revelers younger than 5 — the minimum age for vaccination under federal law — are exempt from the mandate but must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult. No testing is needed for those under 5, Harris said.

De Blasio defended the New Year's Eve mandate, even as the virus isn’t commonly transmitted outdoors — and there is no vaccine mandate for other outdoor activities in New York City.

"When you’re outdoors with a few hundred thousand people packed close together for hours on end it’s a different reality. Let’s be clear," de Blasio said. He added: "It makes sense to protect everyone."

The tradition of gathering in Times Square for New Year’s dates back 114 years.

A year ago, the 2020-into-2021 festivities were all but canceled, only telecast on TV and streamed online "without public revelers in attendance," as the Times Square Alliance described it then, when there was no vaccine.

That night, in a nearly deserted Times Square, a face-masked de Blasio danced with his wife, Chirlane McCray.

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