The official New Year’s Eve fireworks display was abruptly canceled late Tuesday afternoon, and don’t be surprised if other planned New Year’s Eve parties start getting canceled en masse over the next 48 hours.

Do you have plans for New Year’s Eve in San Francisco this Friday night? Do you have tickets to an event? Might be time to check that event’s refund policy. In the first shoe to drop of what may be many more by this coming Friday, San Francisco has canceled its New Year’s Eve fireworks display scheduled for Friday night, according to the Chronicle, saying the cancellation was “due to the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases.”

"While we are all understandably eager to ring in a new year with San Francisco's customary New Year's Eve fireworks show, we must remain vigilant in doing all we can to stop the spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant," Mayor London Breed said in a release. "By canceling the New Year's Eve fireworks show we are reducing everyone's exposure to COVID-19, while ensuring continuity of citywide public safety operations."

There are some additional tea leaves to read in the full statement, and they do not bode well for other large gatherings scheduled for Friday night and Saturday morning. “The decision was made after closely monitoring local health indicators and impacted public safety staffing levels,” the statement says. Note that reference to staffing levels. It’s fair to speculate many city departments are already short-staffed, and will be more so by Friday night, given the Omicron variant’s warp-speed spread.

The statement also declares that “Limiting large public events like the City’s New Year’s fireworks show will provide an additional layer of protection to San Francisco first responders.”

Limiting large public events.” While Mayor Breed has not been seen nor heard from for about a week now (until her quote popped up in this release), seems she's likely now back at least working the phones, if not physically back in San Francisco from some manner of holiday.

Is she calling the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium telling them to call off that New Year’s Eve event? Or other huge venues throwing parties. like the Regency, the W Hotel, or Fort Mason? It’s not implausible, and these venues may simply take their cue from the city’s decision. Yes, we had fireworks the weekend before Christmas for The Matrix Resurrections premiere and the Metallica show, but those are not valid comparisons. We lived in a completely different world ten days ago. And a mere three days from now, the landscape may look even worse.  

Related: SF Sees Four Consecutive Record-Breaking Days of COVID Cases; Hospitalizations Rise Across State [SFist]

Image: Cedric Letsch via Unsplash