Raleigh’s largest NYE celebrations still on with more precautions amid omicron spread


RALEIGH N.C. (WNCN) – Some of the biggest New Year’s events in the Triangle will draw thousands of people to downtown Raleigh.

But, as the omicron variant spreads, health experts are urging caution around crowds and at holiday events.

For the first time in two years, First Night Raleigh will hold its acorn drop at City Plaza, organized by the group Artsplosure.

Artsplosure organizers said they’re working with health officials now to see if they need to update their plans.

For inside events at First Night Raleigh, people will have to wear masks and show vaccination proof or a negative covid test.

Those precautions will not be required outside.

Duke Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lisa Pickett recommends anyone going to large events should keep masking and social distancing in mind.

“I think people need to think about their personal health and then their environment,” Pickett said. “Outdoor events are clearly better than indoor. But even outdoor events, if you’re real close to other people, really should be masked to protect yourself maximally given how infectious this variant seems to be.”

Also on New Year’s Eve, omicron won’t stop plans for 600 people to fill the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for Rocky Top Catering’s annual gala.

“We are going to hold the event and we are going to hold the event only under the highest safety measures to make sure people feel comfortable,” said Dean Ogan, owner of Rocky Top Catering.

Ogan said he too will require masks and proof of vaccination or a negative covid test within 48 hours.

“I think there is still a little concern about gathering in the masses for an event like this, especially with the omicron variant being in the back of people’s heads,” Ogan said.

He said because of vaccines, his event business has boomed over the past few months even with variants like delta and omicron emerging.

“The virus is what it is, it’s not going away,” Ogan said. “We’ve got to learn how to live responsibly with it.”

Eagle Eye Entertainment is also hosting a New Year’s Eve Celebration at Union Station.

In a statement, the company said they have added a tent for more space and “masks are encouraged but not mandatory. We will revisit this on Monday to determine if we will make masks mandatory.”

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