The subdued atmosphere caused by the pandemic on what is usually a dizzying vacation was evident at Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan on an unusually hot final day in 2021, as New Yorkers said goodbye to a difficult year and armed themselves for another.
Many of those in the modest crowd browsing the stalls filled with plants, vegetables, baked goods and other items didn’t seem overly concerned about the virus: at least half were not wearing masks, but had them in their pockets. hands or put them under the chin instead.
Yet their comments told a more nuanced story.
Bruce Perry, 72, of Coney Island, scoured the market offerings on his way to Paragon Sports on the north side of the plaza. The prevalence of the Omicron variant had dampened his New Year’s mood.
“I’m a little depressed,” he says. “I’m tired of wearing this mask every day. “
He added that he had just started to feel comfortable being outside without it.
“But I know we have to wear it with whatever is going on,” he said. “We have to learn to live with it.
Mr Perry, who is vaccinated and has been given a booster, said he was careful to avoid large crowds and recently canceled a trip to Atlanta to visit his two daughters and three grandchildren.
“I’ll have to wait,” he said. “I don’t want to get sick, and I don’t want them to get sick.”
“I hope 2022 will be better,” he added. “It doesn’t seem to be getting any better.”
George Martin was also on the north side of the plaza, playing Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy” and West Side Story’s “Maria” on his trumpet as a few passers-by dropped dollar bills into his little gray duffel bag. while wishing him a happy New Year.
The 71-year-old retiree who lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and walks through parks several days a week, Mr Martin said he was sure 2022 would bring its fair share of problems, but it was not a reason to stop living.
“There is a lot of confusion right now about Omicron, but what are you going to do? ” he said. “Do you lock yourself in your room?” Life is too short.”
Soph Ehrlich, 27, a social worker, said they were weary of the pandemic and frustrated with the way it had affected the poor families they were working with.
Yet Mx. Ehrlich, who grew up on East 15th Street and now lives in Oakland, Calif., Said the sense of community that has grown over the past 12 months is heartening.
“I’m tired, but I don’t feel hopeless. “Mx. said Erlich. “I trust people to take care of each other. “
In Brooklyn, the mood was also muffled outside the Woodhull Hospital Center, a city-run facility straddling the Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods where the queue to get a PCR test passed along. ‘a fenced driveway.
Sulphina Bennett was among those waiting. Ms Bennett, 39, said she fell ill with Covid-19 in January and got vaccinated after that. So when a quick test came back positive after spending Christmas with her parents, she decided to seek another opinion.
“I’m doing this just to make sure,” said Ms Bennett, wearing a floral-print overcoat and mask, from her seat near the front row. She said she had been waiting 90 minutes.
Ms Bennett said she felt like she had a mild cold. But she didn’t take her symptoms lightly. A colleague died from Covid earlier in the pandemic, she said. Another had it now.
“It’s like we all get it one by one,” she said.
The wait for testing was around 30 minutes at a city-run health clinic in a parking lot next to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in Fort Greene. Among those waiting were Stacey Campbell, Adam Szlachetka and their 2-year-old daughter Noa, who started kindergarten in September.
“This is the first time that she has to take a specific test for the school,” said Ms Campbell, 39. “I don’t know if it will be regular, but we received an email saying, ‘Every child, take a test before coming back on the 4th’. “
She said the tests for herself and Mr Szlachetka, 42, were precautionary measures.
“We were lucky,” Ms. Campbell said. Both are vaccinated and neither has contracted the virus. But the fact that Ms Campbell’s mother was exposed to an infected person scared the family over Christmas, triggering a frenzied series of tests and readings online.
“We were waiting until the last minute to see if my mom could come over for Christmas,” Ms. Campbell said. “We all did it. She and her husband were to eat in the hallway.
“Other than that,” she added with a laugh, “we were all together. “
Regarding New Years plans, Ms Campbell said, “We’re going to make a champagne cocktail and get tested and feel good about it. And hope for a better 2022. “
By 4 p.m., those planning to greet the New Year at or near Times Square’s scaled-down version of the traditional New Years Eve celebration had started to gather.
Several hundred people stood on the south side of the police barricades on 38th Street and Seventh Avenue, waiting to enter the section where the festivities would be held or linger to have a distant gaze as they went. that night was unfolding.