New York City will be instituting a mandatory mask policy for attendees to this year’s New Year’s Eve celebrations to protect citizens from the Omicron virus.

On Thursday, outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the requirement as a way to keep visitors safe. Speaking at a press conference, de Blasio detailed the measures that the city will be putting in place to ensure the annual New Year’s Eve goes off without becoming a superspreader for COVID-19.

"New Yorkers have stepped up tremendously over the past year — we are leading the way on vaccinations, we have reopened safely, and every day we work toward building a recovery for all of us,” said de Blasio. “There is a lot to celebrate and these additional safety measures will keep the fully vaccinated crowd safe and healthy as we ring in the New Year.”

Mayor-elect Eric Adams joined de Blasio for the announcement and praised him for the decision. In his own remarks, Adams said that the requirements will mean New Yorkers will still get an opportunity to enjoy one of their biggest annual celebrations.

“The Mayor has made the right move to take precautionary measures as we learn to live with COVID and fight the Omicron variant—and New Yorkers and visitors alike can now enjoy Times Square and the rest of our city as we ring in 2022,” said Adams.

According to the city, the event usually draws approximately 58,000 people, but this year’s celebration will host approximately 15,000 people, and visitors won’t be allowed entry until 3:00 p.m. ET, much later than in past years. Attendees will also be required to show proof of vaccination and to follow social distancing guidelines at Times Square.

New York, once the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, has already seen cases of the new Omicron variant across the city. De Blasio, who will be exiting office on Jan. 1, has called on President Joe Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act to bring more supplies of at-home testing kits and antiviral pills to residents of his city.

To date, New York City estimates that 80% of its residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination and 71.5% of the population is fully vaccinated.

The city has seen a seven-day averages of 114 hospitalizations and 12,613 active cases across its five boroughs.