COVID-19 surge, Omicron Variant, dim holiday spirits

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New York City faces a blight Christmas.

A record surge in COVID-19 cases, a sudden wave of major event cancelations and the specter of new mandates and shutdowns have dimmed holiday spirits.

“This Christmas is a lot more stressful and less enjoyable,” Hilary Lariviere, 28, visiting from Rhode Island, said Saturday at Bryant Park. “I do not feel safe walking around in crowds. I do not trust humanity. I don’t know who is vaccinated. It’s not like what it used to be.”

The Rockettes announced Friday they had cancelled their Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular shows through the end of the year.

On Broadway, “Jagged Little Pill,” which had canceled its Thursday performance, will now stay closed through Tuesday, according to Playbill.com, the latest show to do so.

The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets now have a combined 14 players on their COVID lists, after each added players to it on Saturday. The Giants cancelled full practice Friday amid a COVID outbreak, while NFL reports that more than 100 players have tested positive for the virus this week.

And Saturday Night Live canceled its “live” audience for this weekend’s production of the venerable sketch comedy following a COVID outbreak that swept through the cast.

“Everyone is fearful here,” an SNL insider told The Post.

Radio City Music Hall
The Rockettes have canceled their performances through the end of the year due to the surge in COVID cases.
Daniel William McKnight for NY Post

The chain of events comes as the state reported 21,908 new COVID cases on Friday, the highest single-day total yet in the two-year pandemic. The CDC estimates that 13 percent of new COVID cases are the Omicron variant. The number of confirmed Omicron cases in NYC stood at 192 on Saturday.

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The city’s retail sector appears to be feeling the impact of current events — on top of online shopping trends that socked the industry long before COVID.

“It’s Christmas, but it’s not that busy,” an employee at Midtown landmark Saks Fifth Avenue said Saturday, amid a sparse crowd of weekend holiday shoppers. “It’s supposed to be busy.”

Testing site line
New York saw a record number in positive COVID tests on Friday.
William Farrington for NY Post

A similar scene unfolded at the Loft outlet at 6th Ave. and 49th St.

“It’s quiet right now,” said a staff member. “It’s been off and on all day.”

There are signs of hope amid the wintry malaise.

New York City last week boasted its highest hotel occupancy level, 81.5 percent, since the start of the pandemic, and the best of any US market, according to STR, which tracks data for the global hospitality industry.

“NYC’s tourism industry is resilient and as always, remains nimble,” boasted NYC & Co. CEO Fred Dixon.

The occupancy rate is about 13 percent lower than figures posted at the end of 2019, a record year for New York City tourism, according to Dixon’s group.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, stands by city plans to host a “full-strength” New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square.

Minnesota residents Kenny King, 33, and Madeline Outcalt, 26, visited Manhattan this weekend with plans the see the Rockettes perform at the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular.

Ice Skating at Rockefeller center.
Some tourists have been disappointed by the latest round of closures and cancelations.
Daniel William McKnight for NY Post
Minnesota residents Kenny King, 33, and Madeline Outcalt, 26, visited Manhattan this weekend with plans the see the Rockettes
Kenny King, 33, and Madeline Outcalt, 26, had plans to see the Rockettes. They did, however, get engaged.
Georgett Roberts/NY Post

Their brief disappointment turned to a public display of joy Saturday afternoon.

“She said, ‘Yes!’” King beamed, wiping tears from his eyes after proposing to Outcalt with the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree glimmering behind them.

”This is our best Christmas ever.”

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