NEW YORK - COVID-19 is once again casting doubt on New Year's Eve celebrations across the globe. In New York, the highly-anticipated annual Times Square ball drop will host only 15,000 fully vaccinated and masked attendees.
Some people are calling off their plans altogether. However, Dr. Purvi Parikh, an immunologist with NYU Langone Health, said there is a way to celebrate safely.
"I would consider gathering in much smaller groups, even 10 or less, in places where you can really distance," she said. "If not, even [wear a] mask, too."
A handful of New York City bars and restaurants, crippled by the coronavirus pandemic, are moving full steam ahead with added precautions.
"We are a lot more careful and it's mandatory that everyone is vaccinated," said Mauro Lusardi, who owns Uva on the Upper East Side.
He said many patrons are opting to make reservations for outdoor seating either in the restaurant's curbside dining area or the backyard garden. Also Uva doesn't charge a cancellation fee in the case of an emergency.
"Suddenly, we noticed that there are a lot less people in the street, a lot less people coming in," Lusardi said. "We are somewhat worried but maybe it's just for a little while."
Coronavirus cases in South Africa have dropped in recent days, signaling that the country's omicron-driven surge may have passed its peak.
Health officials in New York are hoping for a similar outcome but argue it is better to be safe, rather than sorry, when ringing in the new year.