HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - It’s been three years since Virginia Beach resident Mary Glenn Huffman last went out to celebrate New Year's Eve.
“It’s been a long time inside,” she said.
But this year will be different.
“I’m going to a square dance,” Huffman said. “We use a church hall. It’s the Thumpers Square Dance Club. Everybody’s been vaccinated, and we’re all pretty safe.”
“I’m excited to be out and about with people [and] doing anything,” Huffman added.
Organizers with both events told News 3 the events intend to go on as planned this Friday night.
Last Night on the Town organizers added they’re following guidelines with the City of Virginia Beach, which is in line with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“It’s kind of exciting, just as long as people are sensible,” Huffman said.
Chesapeake resident Jon Winslow is also happy to see the celebrations come back.
“It’s great they’re opening back up and getting things going,” Winslow told News 3. “Stay safe. If you have a bad immune system, don’t come out [and] stay home. If you feel good, do it. Have fun.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci suggests no large crowds for New Year’s.
“I would recommend strongly stay away from that this year. There will be other years to do that, but not this year,” Dr. Fauci said. “You’re talking about a New Year’s Eve party. We have 30, 40, 50 people celebrating. You do not know the status of their vaccination.”
Virginia Beach resident Laurie Jordan agrees with Dr. Fauci.
“I understand people want to get out and be normal again, but it’s still happening,” Jordan said. “It’s not worth it.”
Jordan told News 3 she'll be celebrating 2022 at home with family due to COVID concerns.
“I almost lost my mom, and I had it really bad. It was a big to-do,” she said. “We’re all vaccinated, but you can still get it and spread it to people that aren’t vaccinated. That’s not OK.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Gov. Ralph Northam's Office told News 3 he doesn't anticipate any policy changes ahead of New Year's Eve when asked about guidance regarding gatherings.
In a statement, Chief Communications Officer Grant Neely said:
"Everyone knows what to do at this point: Get vaccinated and get a booster shot. 15 million shots have been given in Virginia this year, and they are keeping people safe. If you’ve chosen not to get your shots, you need to stay away from other people - to protect them and yourself."
Norfolk resident Caleb Jones said he's celebrating close to home with his wife this year.
“My wife is immunocompromised, so we have to take that into account with making plans these days,” Jones said.
He believes celebrations are good as long as folks remain safe heading into the new year.
“People are vaccinated, and they feel comfortable, I don’t cast any aspersions for them being able to go to an event like that,” Jones said. “I think everybody kind of has to gauge what’s best for them.”
When it comes to holiday celebrations and special events, VDH lists their top holiday tips:
- Get vaccinated and get your booster if you're eligible
- Wear a mask in public indoor spaces
- Gather outside, or in well ventilated areas
- Stay at home and get tested if you're having any symptoms of COVID-19
- Wash your hands frequently, including before and after preparing food
VDH also lists risk levels when making plans to celebrate the holidays this year:
Low Risk Activities:
- Virtual parties with your friends and family
- Celebrating at home, with the people that live with you
Medium Risk Activities:
- Indoor gatherings with fully vaccinated individuals from different households
- Outdoor gatherings with individuals from different households where not everyone may be vaccinated
High Risk Activities
- Large, indoor gatherings with people from different households who are unvaccinated
- Celebrating in indoor, poorly ventilated spaces
- Events where large groups of people stand close together while cheering, singing, or loudly celebrating
- Traveling to a gathering in another community for individuals who are unvaccinated