The annual New York City light memorial to victims of the 9/11 terror attacks has been canceled amid coronavirus fears, organizers of the ceremony announced Thursday.
The iconic twin beams of light which represent the World Trade Center towers will not be beamed into the sky on the anniversary of the 2001 attacks because of concerns of the spread of the virus.
Michael Frazier, a spokesman for National September 11 Memorial & Museum, said organizers were particularly worried about the health risks to workers who would set up the display.
To create the installation, known as ‘Tribute in Light’, 40 stagehands and electricians work in close proximity for more than a week.
There were also concerns over gatherings in the streets and on rooftops to see the installation.
‘The world’s beloved twin beams of light regrettably will not shine over Lower Manhattan as part of this year’s 9/11 tributes after concluding the health risks during the pandemic were far too great,’ Frazier said in a statement.
The Memorial & Museum is planning an alternative display that will include spires and facades of buildings in Manhattan being illuminated in blue, he said.
The lights first appeared in March 2002, six months after the attack, when they were originally organized by the Municipal Art Society.
They can be seen up to 60 miles away in the days leading up to 9/11 each year and extend four miles into the sky.
The lights are typically turned on at dusk and would shine through the night until dawn on September 12.
It has become one of the signature elements of the annual commemorations, and the memorial and museum took over the organization of the tribute in 2012.
The full installation consists of 88 specially made Space Cannon lights, each with a 7,000-watt xenon compressed gas bulb, Scott Campbell of Michael Ahern Production Services, which produces the event, told the New York Times.
It is powered by temporary generators, which are set out on the roof of a garage on Greenwich Street two squares of about 50-by-50 feet.
The memorial will return next year, Frazier added, for what will be the 20th anniversary of the attacks.
Last month, organizers also cited the pandemic in canceling one of the most poignant parts of previous memorials – the personal messages spoken by families of victims from 9/11 and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
They said recorded name readings from the museum’s ‘In Memoriam’ exhibition will be used instead of having relatives read the names in person.
Families are still invited to gather at an outdoor memorial this year but social distancing measures will be in place.
The hours-long ceremony will involve the listing of the victims names and six moments of silence.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed when terrorist-piloted planes slammed into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.
New York City has successfully kept the spread of coronavirus outbreak under control in the past few weeks after becoming the global epicenter of the outbreak at the end of March.
The positive test rate in the Big Apple has stayed at 1 percent or below since June and no spike has been reported after progressing through all the planned phases of its reopening.
New cases have increased among residents in their 20s, but fallen among people over 40.
On Tuesday, the last time local government released coronavirus statistics due to delays in reporting, there were 82 new cases of COVID-19 in NYC.
In contrast, the Big Apple’s highest single day surge came on June 4, when 6,377 people were diagnosed with the deadly disease.
In total, the city has reported 225,713 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 18,979 confirmed deaths and 4,631 probable deaths recorded.
Hospitalizations are also way down, with just four admitted to hospital on Tuesday – a 1,718 person decrease on the city’s outbreak peak on June 4.
285 patients, meanwhile, remain in public hospital Intensive Care Units.
However, health experts are still urging caution despite the significantly lower numbers.
Some are encouraging residents to get tested for COVID-19 at least once a month as schools and business are set to reopen.
Other doctors insist the suggestion is ‘unrealistic’ with results already backed up by two weeks.
Since June, city officials have encouraged New Yorkers to get tested, whether they’re exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or not.