How to celebrate New Year's Eve safely

“An event canceled is better than a life canceled.”

December 30, 2021, 12:06 PM

New Year's Eve celebrations for 2021 were significantly scaled back due to COVID, with hopes of larger celebrations to mark 2022. But with case numbers surging, are this year's festivities safe?

It depends what your plans are, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

PHOTO: Jessica Martini, 7, holds a hat with pieces of confetti in it, as New Year's Eve confetti is 'flight-tested' ahead of celebrations in Times Square, New York City, Dec. 29, 2021.
Jessica Martini, 7, holds a hat with pieces of confetti in it, as New Year's Eve confetti is 'flight-tested' ahead of celebrations in Times Square, New York City, Dec. 29, 2021.
Yana Paskova/Reuters

"What I would suggest people do not do is to go to very large, 50 to 60 person parties where people are blowing whistles and all that sort of thing and celebrating and you don't know the vaccination status of the people in that environment. That would be a risky situation that I would recommend against," he said in an ABC News Live interview.

With COVID cases surging, many cities are heading Fauci's advice.

PHOTO: People gather near the the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, Dec. 29, 2021, where a stage is set for the New Year's Eve celebration. The traditional TV show at the Brandenburg Gate will held without an audience.
People gather near the the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, Dec. 29, 2021, where a stage is set for the New Year's Eve celebration. The traditional TV show at the Brandenburg Gate will held without an audience and the boulevards around the gate will be closed for spectators.
Markus Schreiber/AP

New York City's celebration will be larger than last year's but still extremely scaled back. Only 15,000 masked and fully vaccinated attendees will be allowed to watch the ball drop in Times Square -- a quarter of the number normally in attendance.

Other cities have gone even further. Atlanta canceled its annual Peach Drop, Annapolis canceled the in-person portion of its celebration and Seattle's New Year's firework show is only available for viewing online or on television.

Paris, London, Berlin and many other cities have also canceled large-scale in-person events.

PHOTO: Workers add the number 2 to the numerals above Times Square ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations in New York City, Dec. 26, 2021.
Workers add the number 2 to the numerals above Times Square ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations in New York City, Dec. 26, 2021.
Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Sydney Australia, known for being the first place to ring in the new year, will have a celebration only accessible to a limited number of vaccinated ticketed guests.

PHOTO: People queue at a COVID-19 testing site as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to spread in Sydney, Australia, Dec. 30, 2021.
People queue at a COVID-19 testing site as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to spread in Sydney, Australia, Dec. 30, 2021.
Nikki Short/Reuters

So how can you celebrate?

"If you're vaccinated and you're boosted and you want a family gathering in your home with other vaccinated and boosted people, although the risk is not zero, the risk is very low," Fauci said.

It might not be the party some had expected, but according to World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, changing your plans could save a life.

"An event canceled is better than a life canceled," Ghebreyesus said. "It's better to cancel now and celebrate later, than to celebrate now and grieve later."

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