DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Health officials are urging people to keep COVID-19 in mind as they finalize their New Year’s Eve plans by providing recommendations on how to celebrate safely.

This is the first New Year’s Eve without COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, and though many events and gatherings are back, health officials said rising case numbers means people need to use caution.

“As some of those rules and recommendations were relaxed earlier in the year and never came back, there are more of these opportunities out there and people are burned out,” Miami Valley Hospital chief medical officer Dr. Roberto Colon said.

Colon said if you do gather, keep it small, make sure people are vaccinated, wear a mask and avoid venues with large crowds.

“Most of them are not going to be wearing masks, or they’re going to be taking down the masks to eat or drink, it’s going to be loud, people are going to be yelling,” Colon said. “Those are environments that you really do not want to be in.”

People in the Miami Valley are getting ready to ring in the New Year.

“It’s one night a year that we definitely have cherished to get out and spend time together and kind of let loose,” Scott Bellavia from Dayton said.

Bellavia said he and his wife plan to get together with family New Year’s Eve, but he’s not going in unprepared.

“We took it seriously, and we both got vaccinated, and we make sure that we’re abiding by the local rules and state rules,” Bellavia said.

Markita Bell from Dayton said COVID-19 caused her to downscale her New Year’s plans.

“I normally have nice crowd of people coming over to share in the festivities, with the traditional New Year’s dinner, but this year, with COVID and omicron, and everything else going rampant, it’s going to be very small and intimate,” Bell said.

With Ohio’s positivity rate close to 25 percent, Colon said that could be thought of as 1 in 4 people you meet at a gathering could have COVID-19.