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New York rings in 2022 in the shadow of COVID

NEW YORK (AFP) – The city that never sleeps rang in the New Year with a scaled-down ceremony in Times Square on Friday night, marking 2022 with its famous ball drop and confetti.

New Year has been celebrated in bombastic style in Times Square, at the intersection of Broadway and 42nd Street in the heart of Manhattan, since the turn of the 20th Century.

The coronavirus meant last year’s festivities were a muted affair, with the pandemic-ravaged city’s decision to forgo the usual celebrations meaning Times Square was left strikingly empty.

But outgoing mayor Bill de Blasio kept his promise to bring back the party in 2021.

A crowd limited to 15,000 people, instead of the usual 60,000, all masked and vaccinated, watched as a crystal ball – measuring 3.5 metres and weighing more than five tonnes – was brought down to ring in 2022.

Spectators kissed and hugged when the bell struck midnight, as more than 1.3 tonnes of confetti carrying New Year’s greetings was thrown from the roofs of buildings bordering Times Square.

Times Square was also host to political theatre on Friday night with the transfer of power just after midnight from de Blasio to Eric Adams, a former policeman elected in November on a platform of fighting crime and socio-economic inequalities in the city.

Adams, holding up a portrait of his deceased mother, took an oath on religious scripture alongside his family – having earlier hailed the indefatigability of the city he is now tasked with running.

A sign reminds people to wear face masks as revellers gather on Times Square in New York. PHOTO: AP