What to know before visiting Rockefeller Center's Christmas tree in 2020 amid COVID-19
The 88th Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will shine bright in New York City this season, with health and safety precautions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 75-foot-tall, 11-ton Norway Spruce hailing from Oneonta will be lit on Wednesday at a ceremony that is closed to the public, but can be viewed live on NBC from 7 to 10 p.m.
But, after the lighting, how can visitors enjoy the classic holiday tradition?
Access to Rockefeller Center, the number of visitors and the amount of time spent admiring the tree will be strongly limited — reservations will be required — and up close access to the tree will not be available this year.
According to the Rockefeller Center website, the tree will have two viewing entrances: one from 49th and 50th Streets and the other between Fifth and Sixth Avenues respectively. There will be circular social distancing floor markers, 6 feet in diameter each, that can accommodate four people. Retailers and restaurants within Rockefeller Center's Concourse can be accessed by visitors from 49th and 50th streets.
The Center Plaza, the home of the tree, will be closed.
Once in their tree viewing pod, visitors have 5 minutes to take in the tree and snap photos. Tishman Speyer security will be on hand to enforce the time limit and social distancing.
To manage visitor flow and limit access, a virtual queue system will be in place for access. To get into the virtual queue, visitors will be asked to scan a QR code using their smart phone. Once a visitor is placed in the virtual queue, they will be sent a wait time as well as an SMS message when their time to view the tree has come.
According to New York City MayorBill de Blasio in a press conference, the goal is to limit the amount of people in the Rockefeller Center area.
"If you get a ticket, great, go see it though obviously be distancing and be wearing a masks. If you're walking by there, great, you'll see it," de Blasio said. "But what we do not want, and cannot have, is large crowds of people trying to get close. It's just not safe."
"Remember we want to make really clear to people not to come out in large numbers and to be really smart about distancing," he said. "So, we're going to adjust hose plans to achieve that goal."
As with most other sightseeing locations throughout the city, masks are mandatory and social distancing will be enforced by the proper authorities.
The tree will be on display from 6 a.m. until midnight every day. On Christmas Day, the tree will be lit for 24 hours. On New Year's Eve, guests can visit the tree from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. A last day to visit the tree has not been announced yet.
"It's not like holidays we've gone through before," de Blasio said. "Let's get through 2020. Let's turn the page in 2021 when we can all get back there to celebrate the tree the right way. But this year, less is more."
For more information, go to rockefellercenter.com/holidays.
Heather Clark covers business openings and closings throughout Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties. Keep up on the latest comings and goings by joining our Facebook group at What's going there Westchester, Rockland, Putnam. Contact Clark via email, email@example.com.