Rockefeller tree in NYC has new rules, sets 5 minute time limit for viewers during holidays

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, November 30, 2020
New rules to see the Christmas tree at the Rock
Like everything else in 2020, seeing the tree this year will be different

NEW YORK CITY -- There are new changes in place if you want to check out the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree this holiday season.

Additionally, don't expect a long visit. There's a five-minute viewing limit.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is traditionally one of the city's most popular holiday attractions, drawing huge crowds throughout December.

This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the crowds are going to be controlled and severely limited.

The 2020/21 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree viewing guidelines, approved by New York State and New York City, will follow social distancing and capacity control protocols. The guidelines were released on Monday morning.

"This is what we need to do to protect everyone," said Mayor de Blasio. "It's a different approach but it's an approach that will keep people safe."

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday, December 2 will be closed to the public. The tree will be lit during a live national broadcast.

If you want to view the tree from Thursday, December 3, 2020 through early January 2021, here are the viewing protocols:


- 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 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.


- The Channel Gardens (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.

- Shops and restaurants in the Concourse can be accessed from 49th and 50th Streets.

- Rockefeller Center tenants will have regular access to their spaces with tenant ID.

This year's Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a 75-foot-tall, 45-foot-wide Norway spruce from Oneonta, New York. It is wrapped in 50,000 multi-colored LED lights and topped with a Swarovski crystal star.

RELATED: The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree's 88 years of history

AccuWeather takes us back to New York City in 1931 when the first Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was erected.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree made its journey from Oneonta, New York to Rockefeller Plaza in Midtown.

Officials say the 75-foot Norway spruce was driven to Rockefeller Plaza, raised off of its 115-foot-long trailer and put into place by a crane.

This year, there was a tiny stowaway aboard the tree. A tiny saw-whet owl. She has since been released into the wild.

Another thing you'll need tickets for...the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink which is now open.