New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday urged people not to visit the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, as the city unveiled new restrictions on access to the iconic site.
“This is something that in normal years we all go to see in person. This year, I’m gonna tell you to watch a different way,” the mayor said, referring to the tree’s famous annual lighting in Midtown Manhattan and visiting it during the holiday season.
“On Dec. 2, live and on television — this coming Wednesday — you’re going to see the ceremony, the tree lighting, and that’s the best way to see it,” de Blasio said — as New York’s COVID-19 positive-test rate just hit a level not seen since May.
“I know some people are still going to want to go in person, and I’m going to tell you up front, please, if you can make the decision to watch it on TV, that’s so much better.”
The mayor added that even after the lighting, “if you choose to go in person, there’s going to be a lot of specific rules in place to make it much safer than would normally be the case in a typical year.
“There will be a reservation system, groups of no more than four at a time will be able to go up and view the tree. It’s a timed, socially distanced approach,” he said.
While people won’t be allowed to watch the tree-lighting in person when the switch is flipped on at 8 p.m. Wednesday, fans can start showing up at the site Thursday, as long as they have tickets and masks and socially distance, NBC TV reported Monday.
The tree will be fully lit and open for public viewing from 6 a.m. to midnight daily, NBC said.
But forget hanging around for a while to enjoy the view — visitors get 5 minutes to snap their photos before having to move on.
Visitors will be allowed to view the tree in groups of four, with any larger gathering split off separately for viewing.
To give viewers space to safely socially distance, 49th and 50th streets between Fifth and Sixth avenues will be closed to cars.
The skating rink will still be accessible, NBC said.