(ABC4) – As COVID cases spike and the Omicron variant continues to create uncertainty across the globe, multiple large cities have changed event policies or cancelled altogether due to the recently increased severity of the pandemic.
Paris cancelled their Champs-Élysées fireworks display, New York reduced capacity at their Times Square celebration by 75%, and Los Angeles has gone virtual for their New Year’s Eve party planned to take place in Grand Park.
So, will Salt Lake City follow suit?
Local event organizers say no, there are currently no plans for cancellations thus far.
“I haven’t seen any cancellations in Utah,” says Jordan Clements, who owns local event production and promotion company JRC Events. “There are places I’ve seen in New York, where it’s very populated, where things have had to take a break or cancel altogether, but they obviously have a bigger population. But I haven’t seen anything local get cancelled.”
Even though it doesn’t seem like New Year’s cancellations are on the horizon in our city, event organizers are doing their best to ensure safety at their year-end celebrations.
JRC Events, which is hosting a New Year’s Eve drag show, will be requiring a proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours for entry into their NYE 2022 event. This requirement applies to all performers, staff, and attendees.
The event, which features celebrity guests from popular TV series’ RuPaul’s Drag Race and The Boulet Brother’s Dragula, will also be operating at reduced capacity. The celebration is currently at less than 50% of total venue capacity, based on number of tickets sold. Clements says this will allow for adequate social distancing at the event.
While masks will not be required to enter the venue, JRC Events is requiring masks in order to participate in meet and greets with the celebrity guests.
“We’ve been taking really good precautions since the start of the pandemic and we’ve been keeping an eye on the CDC and local state protocols,” Clements says. “We’re taking this very seriously. We’ve been dealing with this since this whole thing started so we have a pretty good grasp on the protocols that we need to follow to make sure that everyone is safe.”
Downtown SLC’s The Gateway will also be hosting their fourth annual Last Hurrah! celebration to ring in the New Year. According to Jacklyn Briggs, director of marketing at The Gateway, the event will be primarily hosted outside, with strict capacity limits for indoor spaces.
The year-end shindig will feature musical performances from local bands and DJs, in addition to food and beverages from restaurants and bars in The Gateway.
“We do feel like this event can be low risk if people take their precautions. If they’re feeling sick, please stay home. If they’re feeling OK and they can come out, they can wear a mask,” Briggs says. “It is outdoors and they can spread out because the property is so large.”
Briggs says that masks won’t be required for attendees, but staff will be required to wear face coverings at the event.
So it appears that while Omicron has triggered talk of closures à la March 2020, Salt Lake’s New Year’s Eve celebrations appear to be continuing as planned.
“Things do look so much different than they did in 2020, in the sense that there are vaccines available for people and the booster shot is available,” Briggs says. “We’ve learned so much over this last year and a half that I think for event planners like us, it is important to create these low-risk events where people can still celebrate.”