Cops in the Big Apple can no longer expect any time off over New Year’s Eve and Day due to Covid-related staff absences
All “scheduled time off” for New York City police has been canceled and officers have been mandated to return to work, reportedly spurred on by a spike in Covid-19 cases.
An NYPD spokesperson confirmed the leave cancellations on Wednesday, saying New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square and precincts throughout the city are in need of officers.
“Effective Friday, December 31 and Saturday, January 1, all uniformed members’ regular days off are cancelled and they are to report to their respective commands for their assigned tour,” the department announced.
According to a New York Daily News report citing sources with knowledge of the department’s decision, concern about Covid-19 cases is behind the order for cops to return to the job. Approximately 16% of the uniformed force has called out sick in the last week of the year, which equates to roughly 6,000 officers. About 1,300 officers have positive Covid cases, the sources said, while more than 3,000 have experienced flu-like symptoms.
Recent data has shown more than 80% of the NYPD is vaccinated against Covid.
While there is a need for more officers to bring in the new year on duty, the city has once again scaled back its massive ball drop celebration due to the spike in Covid-19 cases, driven by the Omicron variant. Outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio remarked last week that the new safety measures would “keep the fully vaccinated crowd safe and healthy” and said the city has “reopened safely.”
This year will bring in about 15,000 revelers to designated viewing areas in Times Square for New Year’s Eve, even though the celebration typically hosts over three times that amount.