By Madisen Keavy

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The guest nobody asked for, invited, or welcomed to holiday gatherings — the COVID-19 omicron variant — has forced businesses and events to cancel or change previously planned New Year’s Eve events across the Sacramento area.

The City of Sacramento called off their New Year’s Eve fireworks show because of the spike in COVID-19 cases. Festivities for the New Year’s Eve Sky Spectacular were planned for Friday at the Old Sacramento Waterfront.

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Then, Wednesday, Drake’s The Barn updated social media with modified New Year’s Eve plans. They won’t be hosting a ticket-only event, but instead, will be open for regular business. The reason: multiple cancelations or requests for refunds due to COVID-19.

“Quite a few refund requests for our event due to our guests having COVID, we decided to reopen the space as normal business as opposed to a private ticketed event,” said Amanda Martin, General Manager of Drake’s The Barn.

Other New Year’s Eve events, like the annual Downtown Sacramento Hyatt Regency party, were never scheduled to happen, even before the variant.

“Let’s do a wait-and-see approach as to what the current guidelines were going to be, and also scale back no matter what because staffing is still an issue, didn’t really have anything planned far in advance,” said Brenda Kirian, director of sales at Hyatt Regency.

Kirian said, to ring in 2022, the hotel has fully-booked reservations at the restaurant, Dawson’s Steakhouse, and will have live music in the lobby and bar area. This plan, different from the 1,000 guests that pack the hotel’s ballroom on New Year’s Eve in years past. This, before the pandemic.

Last year, the hotel wasn’t able to host any New Year’s Eve events, so the event to ring in 2022 is a welcome change, according to Kirian.

The remaining shows at Harlow’s Restaurant and Night Club have been canceled, and the business won’t open until 2022, “out of an abundance of caution,” according to a social media post and a sign on the front doors.

At-Home COVID Tests Hard to Find

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At Ten Acres Pharmacy in Sacramento, COVID-19 tests of all kinds are in demand, at-home tests are no exception, but they sell-out nearly as quickly as they arrive.

“We got 200 tests last week Monday, we sold out in less than 8 hours,” said Owner and Pharmacist Sonya Frausto.

She said the demand the locally-owned pharmacy has seen for COVID-19 tests the week leading up to, and now, after Christmas, is more than what they’ve seen since this time, last year.

It’s impossible to keep at-home tests in stock, and Frausto recommends, “When you see one, buy it.”

In one day, out of 92 COVID tests, 22% came back positive, according to Frausto. On another day, they administered 140 COVID tests, a mix of rapid and 1-2 day results.

Those in line to be tested are there to ensure their holiday plans, like a cruise on New Year’s Eve, can happen safely.

“Things started settling down then omicron came out, so that’s why I’m pretty stressed out today,” said Amber Rivard, who is vaccinated and received her booster shot, but is getting tested to travel for the holiday with family.

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City officials say public health advised, with the omicron variant spreading rapidly, that large gatherings should be avoided.