Officials Urge Caution as Mass. Observes New Year's Eve Amid Coronavirus Surge

Those planning to celebrate are asked to do so in small groups and virtually

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The holidays have been very different during the coronavirus pandemic, and New Year's Eve will be no exception.

There will be no fireworks or in-person events for First Night Boston, with the organization instead hosting a virtual broadcast starting at 6 p.m. Officials are urging people to stay home this year, and Mayor Marty Walsh said tickets could be given out if any parties get out of hand.

The streets of Boston are normally packed on New Year's Eve, but things look different this year during the coronavirus pandemic.

"There's not a lot of people, and everyone's in masks," said Emily Harrington of Newburyport said of the scene in Boston on Thursday. "It's a whole different vibe."

"There's like nobody here," added Ronny Comtois of Haverhill. "I thought it was going to be more than just this. This is pretty devastating, to be honest."

Because COVID-19 numbers continue to surge in Massachusetts and around the nation, New Year's Eve celebrations will certainly look different this year.

Walsh and Police Commissioner William Gross said there will be additional police officers on the streets Thursday night. If they find house parties with more than 10 people, they will be shut down.

"We'll be knocking on doors and asking people to shut down. Hopefully, people cooperate," Walsh said.

"There could be loud parties or unruly parties, even though we don't want any of that. We want everyone to celebrate responsibly," Gross said. "So, folks, we will be out here."

Those planning to celebrate are asked to do it in small groups, as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

The New Year comes as COVID-19 numbers continue to surge in Massachusetts. The state reported 118 coronavirus deaths Wednesday, the most in a single day since May, bringing the Bay State's death toll to over 12,000.

Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday asked residents to heed the advice of health experts and stay home. Those planning to celebrate are asked to do so only with people from their own household if possible.

"As we approach New Year's to close out 2020 -- finally -- we're again urging everyone if they can to stay home," he said. "Please don't host big New Year's gatherings at your own home and do try to spend the time with people you live with. And if you do do anything, try to do it outside and make it brief."

"With the vaccines just getting here and a slightly different outlook for next year in front of us, it's important not to let our guard down," Baker added. "Basically, follow through with respect to all of the rules and guidance that has been issued over the course of the past 10 months or so."

Many people interviewed by NBC10 Boston on Thursday said they're planning to stay home on New Year's Eve.

"I'd usually be hanging out with a lot of my friends. This year, obviously, keeping it smaller," said Samantha Carnevale of Beverly.

"Definitely a lot less people this year, whereas last year I was with a bunch of my friends," said Cameron Avila, also of Beverly.

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