The NYC holiday landmark is using technology to help visitors maintain social distancing.
For many families, visiting the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a tradition, but this year, some advance planning and QR code scanning will be required.
The lighting ceremony already took place weeks ago, but it is still a lovely part of the holidays.
This year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a Norway Spruce towering 75 feet over the space. That said, just because there’s a lot of room, it doesn’t mean it can stand up to the crowds of people who would love to get a look and take in the lights this year while still remaining properly distanced amid the pandemic. There really isn’t anything like seeing it in person, so many people are making the trip instead of simply looking at the pictures online.
To be able to see the tree this year, a smartphone and scanning QR codes is required. Visitors need to enter one of three designated “tree viewing entrances” at 49th and 50th streets and 5th and 6th Avenues in New York City. There, visitors need to adhere to the social distancing markers placed on the ground. This allows them to safely make their way to the tree viewing zones. Once they arrive at one of the zones, their group can spend as much as five minutes there. This gives them enough time to enjoy looking at the tree, take the pictures they want, and then move along to make room for the next viewing group.
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The QR codes are what allow the virtual line to be joined to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
The groups, also known as “pods”, consist of a maximum of four people. Everyone heading to see the tree is required to wear a mask at all times. If a visiting party is larger than four people, it will be split into smaller groups of four or more each. Staff and police are on site the entire time to enforce all the social distancing rules among all visitors.
The QR codes play the most important role during the busiest and most popular visiting times. Scanning allows a group to join a virtual line. This provides the group with a wait time, after which they receive a text message when it’s their turn to join the physical line and view the tree. This way, it becomes considerably easier for visitors to stay socially distanced within the space available. It also means that they don’t have to spend an excessive amount of time waiting and masked near other people, despite social distancing in the line.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is on display every day from 6am to midnight until November 30 and will be open on New Year’s Eve from 6am to 9pm. It will stay in the plaza until early in January, at which time it will be taken down and its lumber will be donated to a charity.