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NYPD Makes Final Security Preparations For New Year's Eve In Times Square, Barricades In Place

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The NYPD is finalizing security plans for the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square Friday night.

Even with thousands of people expected, it will be scaled down because of the pandemic.

As CBS2's Nick Caloway reports, the countdown to 2022 will be smaller than pre-pandemic festivities: Vaccinated and masked revelers only.

The usual crowd of about 60,000 people crammed in for the celebration will be down to about 15,000 to allow for social distancing.

It's another COVID precaution as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly.

"I hope that everything goes well, because I think it's strange compared to other years," said tourist Christian Beinis.

"It's appealing because we're all about stopping the spread," said Jennifer Bowmaster, from Jacksonville, Florida.

WATCH: Times Square Alliance Senior VP Regina Fojas Discusses New Year's Eve Safety Plans --

Like every New Year's celebration, security will be paramount. People entering the so-called frozen zones around Times Square will go through a multi-layered screening process.

"Including, but not limited to, magnetometers, explosive trace detection machines, heavy weapons, and explosive detection canines," said Assistant Chief of Counterterrorism Martine Materasso.

That, along with officers in uniform and plain clothes, radiation detection, and thousands of surveillance cameras.

All of this comes as a record number of NYPD officers are out sick, mostly due to COVID. On Thursday, 21% of the uniformed force - more than 7,300 officers - called in sick.

As a result, the department canceled days off for police to keep up with staffing.

Outgoing Police Commissioner Dermot Shea says the NYPD is ready.

"We're in good shape, not just for here, but for all five corners of New York City, to make sure we have enough officers on the street," Shea said.

Police are also encouraging people to use public transit. Starting at 4 a.m. Friday, vehicle traffic will close from 38th to 59th Street between Fifth and Ninth Avenues. The entrances to two Times Square subway stations will also close.

NYPD officials say there are no specific or credible threats against this year's festivities, but the city remains a target by terrorist groups. So once again, they say: If you see something, say something.

Police add things like umbrellas, chairs, coolers and large bags are prohibited from the viewing areas in Times Square. Alcohol will also not be permitted.

Visitors said they like the restrictions and hope they make New Year's Eve in Times Square a safer, more enjoyable experience.

"The only reason me and my wife came here, because of the requirements to be here," said Jose Soto, a Los Angeles resident.

The NYPD has locked or removed trash cans and mailboxes in the area as a safety precaution.

CBS2's Nick Caloway contributed to this report.

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