The historic lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas tree will be broadcast as a virtual event tonight as New York continues to reel from the global coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has urged people to stay away from the annual ceremony as the city unveils new restrictions on access to the iconic site.
“I know some people are still going to want to go in person, and 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,” said the Mayor.
An estimated 125 million people normally visit the attraction each year. The tree is presented by Tishman-Speyer, the owners of Rockefeller Center.
“This year, we just feel the tree is vital,” said Rob Speyer, president of Tishman Speyer. “The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree always represents the holiday season, but it has also stood tall as a symbol of hope, resilience, and New York’s enduring spirit, from the Great Depression to 9/11, Superstorm Sandy through today.
“2020 has been a difficult year, but New Yorkers have persevered, and we are determined to come back better and stronger. We are particularly proud to continue the joyous tradition this year.”
Under the new rules, the 88th Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be lit and on display starting Thursday, December 3, through early January 2021 from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily.
There will be special tree viewing entrances and traffic patterns, tree viewing time limits, and masks and social distancing at all times.
Tree viewing entrances will be located on 49th and 50th streets and 5th and 6th Avenues only. Tree viewing zones will be on 49th and 50th streets.
Center Plaza, where the tree is physically located, will be closed to the public.
Each distancing floor marker accommodates four people. There can be no more than four people in one pod (a six-foot diameter circle decal outlined on the ground.) Groups of more than four people will be separated into two or more pods.
Once you have reached the tree viewing zone, you have a five-minute time limit to enjoy the tree and take photos.
Masks are mandatory at all times.
Social distancing will be enforced by specially trained staff and NYPD and visitors should maintain a distance of six feet between themselves and other parties.