Planning to visit the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree? Here's what you need to know

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center on Dec. 4, 2019
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center on Dec. 4, 2019. Photo credit John Lamparski/Getty Images

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a reservation system will be in place to help control crowds coming to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree this holiday season.

"Groups of no more than four people at a time will be able to go up and view the tree," de Blasio said Monday. "It's a timed, socially distanced approach, and obviously it means it will be limited the number of people that can get close. This is what we've got to do to protect everyone."

The lighting ceremony, which is being held Wednesday, December 2, will be closed to the public. The tree will be lit during a live national broadcast on NBC airing at 8 – 10 p.m.

"I know some people are going to still want to go in person. I'm going to tell you up front, please, if you can make the decision to watch it on TV that's so much better, but if you choose to go in person there's going to be a lot of specific rules in place to make it much safer than normally would be the case in a typical year," de Blasio said.

Following the lighting ceremony, the tree will be open to the public Thursday, December 3, 2020 through early January 2021.

The following protocols will be in place:

TREE VIEWING ENTRANCES AND ZONES

- 49th and 50th Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues will be closed to vehicular traffic (limited loading dock access for Rockefeller Center tenants only).
- Tree viewing entrances located on 49th and 50th Streets at 5th and 6th Avenues ONLY.
- Dedicated tree viewing zones located on 49th and 50th Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues ONLY.
- The Rink at Rockefeller Center will be accessible on 49th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues.

The Channel Gardens, located between 49th and 50th Streets just west of 5th Avenue, will be open for retail customers and tenants only, not open for tree viewing.

The shops and restaurants in the Concourse can be accessed from 49th and 50th Streets and Rockefeller Center tenants will have regular access to their spaces with tenant ID.

GENERAL RULES

- The tree will be lit from 6 a.m. to midnight every day.
- Virtual queuing will be activated to manage lines. Guests can scan a QR code to see wait time and receive an SMS to return to the line.
- Five-minute tree viewing limit.
- Masks mandated at all times.
- Six feet social distancing will be enforced.
- Guests will be directed to delineated pods, spaced six feet apart, with no more than four people in one pod. Groups of more than four people will be separated into two pods.
- Center Plaza, where the tree is physically located, will be closed to the public.
- Entrance to tree viewing and social distancing will be managed by Tishman Speyer security.

Members of the NYPD and other agencies will be patrolling the area and the city will work as it has in previous years to make sure there’s ample space, including closing off some lanes of traffic, de Blasio said.

“But, again, remember, we want to make really clear to people not to come out in large numbers and to be really smart about distancing,” he said. “So, we're going to adjust those plans to achieve that goal.”