What restrictions may New Yorkers face during the holidays?
With covid-19 cases up more than one hundred percent in New York City, many are worried that mobility restrictions may be implemented just before the holidays.
About a month ago, Bill de Blasio announced that the standard New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square would be back this year. However, since then the epidemiological situation in the city has changed. In the last week, new covid-19 cases increased more than one hundred percent. Much of this increase is believed to be traced to the new Omicron variant.
NYC public health officials have updated their guidance saying “The omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 is now spreading in NYC.” Still, very little has been confirmed “about whether this variant is easier to spread, more likely to lead to severe illness or able to avoid antibodies from vaccines or previous infections. However, there are early signs it may have the ability to spread rapidly.”
When asked if the city would implement new restrictions in light of recent events, Mayor de Blasio said that shutdowns could “really destroy, in so many ways, people’s livelihoods and it would, I think, after everything people have been through — it would be traumatizing.”
Instead, the Mayor has encouraged more residents to get vaccinated. On Thursday 15 December, he announced additional plans that include expanding at-home testing options and the immediate distribution of more than a million KN95 masks. The cities positivity rate across all five boroughs has increased from 3.8 to 7.9 over the last few days.
The Health Commissioner of New York City, Dave Chokshi, said that the city is monitoring the situation and that cases continue to rise in the coming days. So far, however, of the tests, Omicron has only been picked up in one percent of samples. This rate is also expected to increase, as Omicron replaces Delta as the dominant strain.
Have any restrictions been announced in New York City?
On 29 November, the city reimplemented a mask mandate for all individuals regardless of vaccination status “all times when indoors and in a public setting including at groceries, building lobbies, offices, stores, and other common or shared spaces.”