Many NYE plans in the Bluff City altered, canceled amid COVID-19 surge

Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 5:15 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 31, 2021 at 8:48 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In less than 48 hours, the disco ball on Beale Street will rise, signifying a new year, but with COVID-19 cases on the rise, there are concerns in the Bluff City and across the country.

“We’re going to actually be asking people to be wearing their mask when they come onto the street as well,” said Jon Shivers, director of Beale Street.

The annual New Year’s Eve celebration on Beale Street is still on.

Normally, tens of thousands of people pack into the area of Third and Beale to ring in the new year, but Shivers says this year there will be extra safety measures in place.

“We have signs posted throughout the entertainment district, that’s encouraging social distancing. And then we’re also going to be offering free masks to anybody that doesn’t have one, that will take one when they’re coming onto the street to hopefully encourage them to be wearing these masks while they’re celebrating and bringing the new year with us on be street,” Shivers said.

Meanwhile, many New Year’s Eve plans across the city are canceled.

“We just thought rather than all trying to gather, our congregation’s been wonderful about getting vaccinated and social distancing, but it still seems like a time just to try to be safe and to do everything we can to get this variant down,” said Rev. Cheryl Cornish with First Congo Church.

Cornish says not only are the church’s New Year’s Eve celebrations canceled, but services for the next two weeks will be virtual.

“We have a beautiful labyrinth in our sanctuary and a lot of people like to begin the new year with a labyrinth walk, which is a kind of a prayer motion that you can make a walk-through prayer. And we usually do that on New Year’s Eve, but this year we just realized with COVID, it probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do. So, we’ve canceled that,” she said.

Whether you decide to stay in or go out to bring in the new year, health experts encourage you to gather with people who are vaccinated and boosted, keep gatherings small and short, wear well-fitting or surgical masks, test before gathering, and not go to a party if you think you may be sick.

The weather on New Year’s Eve is also a concern for organizers on Beale Street.

With severe weather expected late Friday night, organizers say they’ll keep a close eye out and make a game-time decision if necessary.

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