Times Square

LL Cool J Cancels New Year's Eve Performance in Times Square Due to COVID

Many major cities like Tokyo, Rome and Paris have decided to cancel their New Year's Eve celebration amid surges in coronavirus cases

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What to Know

  • Vaccinated crowds in Times Square were set to enjoy performances by headliners KT Tunstall, LL Cool J, Chlöe, Journey and Karol G on New Year's Eve --- but two of them announced Wednesday that they've dropped out
  • It's possible that there will be more last-minute changes, the mayor's office warned last week in light of the fast-spreading omicron variant
  • As it stands, the city will still allow fully vaccinated people to attend but the audience will be almost four times smaller than it usually is

Vaccinated crowds may be ready to gather in Times Square to ring in 2022 --- but they'll be doing it without LL Cool J.

The vaccinated and masked-up crowds were set to enjoy performances by headliners KT Tunstall, LL Cool J, Chlöe, Journey and Karol G --- but LL Cool J and Chlöe announced Wednesday that they've dropped out of "Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest," according to Deadline. Cool J confirmed he tested positive but it's unclear why Chloe Bailey won't be performing.

Many major cities like Tokyo, Rome and Paris have decided to cancel their New Year's Eve celebration amid surges in coronavirus cases but the Times Square ball drop organizers are sticking with limited crowd sizes and new safety protocols.

"Here in Times Square we felt that it was important to show the world that we can still find ways to carry on those old traditions in a safe and responsible way," said President of Times Square Alliance Tom Harris.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul warned lower reported COVID-19 infections across the state earlier in the week likely were a result of reduced holiday weekend testing, cautioning a surge could appear mid-week as more results came in. NBC New York's Ida Siegal reports.

Capacity for Friday's celebrations will be capped at roughly 15,000 people, nearly four times less than the non-pandemic crowd.

Visitors will not be permitted entry until 3 p.m. on New Year's Eve, which is much later than prior years. Proof of full vaccination -- meaning the last dose of the regimen was at least 14 days before New Year's Eve -- with valid photo identification will remain required as the mayor had previously announced.

Attendees aged 5 and up must also present proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter the event. Minors not yet eligible for vaccination can still attend the Times Square bash but must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult.

Anyone who can't get vaccinated because of a disability must provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the event as well. See more FAQs here.

Little more than a month ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio gleefully announced that a fully vaccinated crowd of hundreds of thousands of people would be back at the iconic celebration — donning goofy 2022-themed glasses and watching a crystal-clad ball drop at midnight — after it was limited last year to small groups of essential workers.

It's possible that there will be more last-minute changes, the mayor's office warned last week in light of the fast-spreading omicron variant. One of those changes includes Mayor-elect Eric Adams announcing that he will take his oath of office in Times Square in the wee hours of New Year’s Day.

The state opened 13 new testing sites, including one in each of the five boroughs, in order to address the overwhelming demand for tests amid the surge in COVID cases. NBC New York's Erica Byfield reports.

“I am deeply humbled to officially take the oath of office at this iconic occasion, and to participate in the transfer of leadership that is a cornerstone of our democracy,” Adams said in a statement.

The choice of Times Square might be an unusual one, but not unprecedented.

Michael Bloomberg also took his oath of office in Times Square in the early minutes of 2002, a very public setting following the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The symbolic event was a first for Times Square.

During the pandemic, Times Square became a worldwide symbol for the city's economic downturn, with businesses and the city's Theater District falling on hard times.

One tradition held right before New Year's is something of a therapeutic event for many who are eagerly looking forward to the end of 2021. NBC New York's Adam harding reports.

As tourism and businesses recover, it has become a symbol of the city's resiliency — which appears to not have been lost on the incoming mayor.

“Times Square has long been synonymous with the New Year — a place of excitement, renewal, and hope for the future,” Adams said. “These are the same themes that animated my campaign and will inform my mayoralty, as I prepare to lead the city out of this challenging period.”

On New Year's Eve last year, Times Square was mostly empty, with Jennifer Lopez and other artists performing behind police barricades. After vaccines became widely available in the U.S., the city allowed crowds back to the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and other events.

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