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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Preparations are underway for New Year’s Eve in Nashville, but those who plan on heading to lower Broadway should be aware of the impact the omicron variant may have on their plans.

Andrea Arnold, Chief Public Affairs Officer for the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp, said the city is monitoring the new variant closely.

“Our concern is obviously extremely high,” Arnold said. “We are working in partnership with public health officials and are monitoring it daily, looking at everything from hospitalization rates, and then just taking stricter protocols within our staff.”

If you want to participate in this year’s festivities, there are a few protocols you need to follow.

“Our latest protocols for the public wanting to come down and enjoy this event are that we are requiring a negative test taken 48 hours prior, the 30th or the 31st, a monitor test if you can bring that we will allow you to show a vaccination card in lieu of that. And masks are encouraged for the general public,” Arnold said.

Dr. Schaffner, Professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt, said that wearing a mask is critical for those who will be in large crowds, and some folks may be better off staying in this year.

“If you’re in one of those high-risk groups, if you’re older, if you have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, if you’re kind of a chubby person, if you’re in any way immunocompromised, maybe this is a New Year’s when you ought to celebrate at home, because still, this virus, this omicron variant could make you very ill,” said Dr. Schaffner.

Dr. Schaffner also said that those who are unvaccinated need to be especially cautious.

“You have to be careful, we’re not entirely sure whether this virus, this omicron variant, always causes milder disease, we have to also distinguish among vaccinated and boosted people where it’s more likely to cause milder disease, sure enough, but among unvaccinated people, it can still put them into the hospital,” Dr. Schaffner said. “Over 90% of the people who have been hospitalized in Tennessee and around the country, continue to be unvaccinated. Those folks, gosh, they should really be careful this New Year’s and get vaccinated as quickly as possible.”