Adams postpones inauguration ceremony in heart of Caribbean community amid COVID spike

Kings Theater
The Kings Theater in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
Associated Press/Richard Drew/File

A week after Mayor-elect Eric Adams announced that the historic Kings Theatre in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn in the heart of the Caribbean community will be the site of his inauguration ceremony on Jan. 1, Adams said on Tuesday that the much-anticipated ceremony will be postponed for a later date. 

Adams, the incumbent Brooklyn Borough President, said the ceremony will be held in conjunction with those for Comptroller-elect Brad Lander and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants. 

“Dear fellow New Yorkers, it is clear that our city is facing a formidable opponent in the Omicron variant of COVID-19, and that the spike in cases presents a serious risk to public health,” said Adams in a joint statement with Lander and Williams. 

“After consulting with public health experts, we have decided that our joint inauguration ceremony will be postponed to a later date in order to prioritize the health of all who were planning to attend, cover and work on this major event,” the statement added. 

“We thank the Kings Theatre for their interest in hosting this exciting moment in our city’s history, and everyone who has been working hard to plan this celebration,” it continued. “We look forward to getting together in person with our loved ones, colleagues and well-wishing New Yorkers to honor this great democratic tradition, and to thank all those who have made it possible, at a safer time, in the weeks ahead. 

“Health and safety must come first,” Adams, Lander and Williams said. “We encourage all New Yorkers to get vaccinated, get boosted and get tested. That is our pathway out of this pandemic, and we will come out of it together.”

Last week, Adams said the ceremony would be held in Brooklyn, instead of the traditional location of City Hall in lower Manhattan, “as a tribute to the election of three citywide leaders from the borough.” 

“It is symbolically impactful for me to be inaugurated as New York City’s 110th mayor in the heart of Flatbush, on behalf of this working-class community and communities like it across the five boroughs who have elected one of their own to lead our recovery,” he said then. 

“Kings Theatre has made so many wonderful memories over its storied history; and, on Jan. 1, we will make even more history there together,” added the Mayor-elect, who will become New York City’s second Black mayor. The first was the late David Dinkins. 

Williams said at the time that he was “deeply humbled” to begin his first full term as public advocate, and “gratified that New Yorkers have appreciated and affirmed the work of our office for the last two years. 

“On Jan. 1, New York begins a new era with new citywide leadership, and I am eager to partner with my fellow citywide elected officials to work on behalf of and for the betterment of New Yorkers,” added Williams, who has also declared his candidacy to oppose incumbent New York Gov. Kathy Hochul in next June’s Democratic Primary. 

“The oath we will take on Jan. 1 is a promise — a promise to work in partnership and in accordance with our mandates to secure a better future for New Yorkers,” Lander said. 

“I look forward to making that public promise alongside Eric Adams and Jumaane Williams, and to working every day to build a more just and resilient city,” he added. 

Kings Theatre, formerly Loew’s Kings Theatre, is a live performance venue opened by Loew’s Theatres as a movie palace in 1929 and closed in 1977. 

The theater sat empty for decades until a complete renovation began in 2010. 

It reopened in 2015 after an authentic restoration of the original 1929 design and new state-of-the-art building systems. The theater has a seating capacity of 3,000 people. 

Williams disclosed Friday night that he has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. 

“Tonight, I tested positive for COVID-19, along with thousands of other New Yorkers, as the next wave of the virus rises in our city and state,” he said in a statement. “I have mild symptoms and am quarantining at home away from my pregnant wife, who has tested negative. 

“I know that isolation is a privilege not everyone has, and I’m grateful to be both vaccinated and boosted,” he added. “The recent spike in COVID-19 cases across New York is urgent and alarming, and this is a time to take precautions that can prevent both a deadly surge and the need for more restrictive measures. 

“Government should take the lead by immediately transitioning to remote work whenever possible,” he urged. “As long lines form at testing sites, it’s vital that we restore expanded testing infrastructure and empower New Yorkers across the state to test themselves by providing home testing kits.”

Williams said he was “grateful” that New York City has taken this step, urging New York State to “replicate and expand on it by directly sending tests to households.”

In addition to strengthening mask protocols, the public advocate urged New York State to adopt the city’s policy of vaccine screenings for indoor venues, “which has been extremely successful and should already have been expanded by this point. 

“I know that this moment is distressing, but we are not in March of 2020;  we have the knowledge and the tools to protect ourselves and our communities that we didn’t back then,” Williams said. “We just need to learn the lessons of the failures at that time, and prevent them from recurring now.” 

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