The new guidelines are to control crowds and maintain social distancing.
The iconic tree is being lighted at on Wednesday, Dec. 2. After that, it will be lit daily 6am to midnight through early January.
It is open for 24 hours on Christmas, and on New Year’s Eve the visiting hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The tickets are FREE and become available starting Thursday, Dec. 3, at kiosks in Rockefeller Center.
The actual tree lighting is closed to spectators.
Normally, the tree lighting ceremony is a huge celebration, with celebrities, music, an ice skating show, a performance by the world-famous Radio City Rockettes and more, attended by as many as 100,000 people packed shoulder-to-shoulder. This year performers including Dolly Parton are entertaining without an audience.
And normally, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree draws as many as 750,000 visitors a day, according to the city’s tourism agency, NYC & Company.
But 2020 is not a normal year.
NBC is broadcasting the lighting ceremony, from its headquarters building, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which overlooks the tree and the ice skating rink starting at 8pm ET and the tree is being lit at 9:45pm ET, so it can be seen in early evening in all US time zones.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said NYC and New York State agreed on a ticketing plan to limit crowd sizes during the pandemic.
“A different approach, but an approach that will keep people safe. I keep saying and I’ll say it again, so we can get through to next year,” the mayor said in a news conference on Monday announcing the guidelines.
“Next year, I look forward to so many of our traditions to come back so we can be there in person and enjoy them the way we always have and that we cherish. But let’s stay safe this year, so everyone can get through to next year and enjoy those traditions together,” he added.
The 2020 tree is 75 feet tall and 45 feet wide. It is a Norway spruce from Oneonta, in upstate New York. Its admirers are from all over the world.
How to Visit the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
49th and 50th streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues is closed to traffic to become dedicated tree viewing zones.
The 50th Street Crosstown bus will be rerouted for the six weeks the tree is in place.
The Center Plaza, where the tree is physically located, is closed to the public.
The Channel Gardens, which are lined with stores, will be for shopping only, not for selfies with the tree in the background.
Line-ups to view the tree are on 49th and 50th Streets, either from Sixth Avenue or from Fifth Avenue.
To gain access to the viewing areas, starting on Thursday, visitors can use a phone to scan QR codes posted near Rockefeller Center.
The QR code will tell you your estimated wait time, and you will get a text message that tells you when to to return to view the tree.
You can request up to four tickets at a time.
When it’s your turn, there’s a five minute viewing limit at the tree.
Of course masks are required and six foot social distancing will be enforced at all times.
Guests will also be directed to delineated pods, spaced six feet apart, with a maximum of four people per pod.