The NYPD has urged New Yorkers to stay away from the New Year’s Eve ball drop slated for tonight in Times Square, saying no spectators will be allowed anywhere near the iconic crossroads of the world.
Speaking during a press conference at One Plaza on Wednesday, Chief of Department Terence Monahan said the NYPD will not allow people to stand anywhere near Times Square and that those who will do so will be asked to “move along.”
“If you think you’re going to come and stand there to watch the ball drop, you’re mistaken. The hotels that operate in the area will be allowed to do so but won’t be allowed to come out like in the past. They have to stay inside the hotels,” Monahan said.
“My message to those ringing in the New Year is please stay at home. There are absolutely no spectators allowed in Times Square. There are no public fireworks in Coney Island and there is no midnight run in Central Park. But as they say the show must go on. This year, everyone will have to watch the Times Square ball drop virtually.”
Monahan said the people working for production companies that will televise the event have all been prescreened for the coronavirus.
“We have no doubt that the television show will be great. There is certainly also no doubt that the NYPD will be there to protect it. The NYPD takes great pride in protecting Times Square on New Year’s Eve and normally welcomes hundreds of thousands of people,” Monahan said.
“We don’t like an empty Times Square either but this year has been nothing short of unprecedented so we are asking for everyone’s help this year, stay at home with your family.
"Let us put 2020 in the rear view mirror and welcome 2021 with the hope that we can still celebrate it together in a COVID free New York City. Let us all look forward to a tremendous Times Square party to welcoming 2022.”
And NYPD chief of Counterterrorism Martine Materasso said there is no active or credible threat against the celebrations in Times Square tonight.
“But due to the iconic status of it, we must always treat it as a potential target for anyone looking to disrupt the event,” Materasso said.
“We are very aware of recent events, particularly the vehicle explosion in downtown Nashville on Christmas Day. As always, we take a closer look at attacks such as this in the US and across the world which includes reporting from our overseas posts. This intelligence helps devise our counter terrorism for this event.”
Meanwhile, NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes said portions of Times Square will be shut down to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic starting at midnight on December 31,2020.
“There will be a two part freeze put into effect for the entire area. The affected area for this initial freeze includes 49th to 45th street and Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue. The second freeze will be put into effect at 3 pm (Thursday).
"The more expansive freeze will also prohibit both vehicular and pedestrian traffic from 41st to 49th street and Sixth to Eighth Avenue,” Holmes concluded.