New York City has long had a history of quirky and unpredictable mayoral inaugurations — from Fiorello La Guardia, who decided to skip the festivities entirely and go straight to work, to John Lindsay, who was forced to cancel a celebratory five-borough tour due to a transit strike.

But no previous mayor has had to contend with the unwelcome presence of COVID-19 on inauguration day, and as Eric Adams plans for an indoor ceremony on January 1, the surge in cases brought by the omicron and delta variants may throw the new mayor's plans into a tailspin.

"An inauguration is a pageant of political symbolism," said Joseph Viteritti, a public policy professor at Hunter College. "It really tells you so much about what is the message that the new mayor wants to communicate."

That will be especially true with Adams, who hoped to hold his inauguration at Brooklyn's historic Kings Theatre rather than on the steps of City Hall, where it's traditionally held. In a press release sent out this week, Adams, who is the current Brooklyn borough president, called the location "symbolically impactful." Since January 1st falls on a Saturday this year, the event will be held in the evening to accommodate observant Jews.

The decision to hold the inauguration indoors comes at a new crisis point in the pandemic. New York City is entering the holiday season gripped by the new omicron variant and an alarming spike in virus cases that has prompted city officials to expand testing sites, distribute masks and give away at-home test kits. Broadway shows and restaurants have been forced to close, and some companies are postponing holiday parties and return dates. On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was clear that omicron was "in full force."

For Adams, an indoor celebration may come as both a public health and political risk.

"It's a policy decision by example," Viteritti said.

Should Adams stay with the plan in the face of rising infections, he said, it will be an indication of how aggressively the new mayor will pursue virus precautions as the city strives to full reopen. The mayor-elect has emphasized that he wants to be more pro-business than de Blasio. He said he has already reached out to business leaders to hear their input on the vaccine mandates set to take effect on December 27th.

In perhaps an ominous sign, on Thursday, one of the elected officials set to take part in the inauguration, Jumaane Williams, the city's public advocate, announced that he had tested positive for COVID. Williams did not respond to a request for comment.

Many public health experts have cautioned against large gatherings of any kind, but especially ones that are indoors.

"We know that omicron has a very high attack rate in households and indoors when people are not wearing masks," said Dr. Denis Nash, an epidemiology professor at CUNY. "If even only one person at an unmasked indoor gathering has it, then it is likely that many if not most others will get it."

Should Adams insist on an indoor inauguration, Nash said, organizers should require masks, testing and good ventilation to reduce the risk of an outbreak.

Although all invited to the inauguration must show proof of vaccination, the press release made no mention of masks. Kings Theatre has a seating capacity of 3,000 people.

Reached for comment, Evan Thies, a spokesperson for Adams, said the mayor is "looking at contingencies and either way we’re going to prioritize safety." Asked if masks would be required, he replied that they would not know the protocols until closer to the inauguration.

As of Friday, other elected officials appeared reluctant to weigh in on the matter.

Through a spokesperson, Brooklyn Councilmember Brad Lander, who is set to be sworn in at the event as the new city comptroller, said, "We're watching the surge in cases with great concern and in conversation with Team Adams."

Mark Levine, the Manhattan councilmember who chairs the council's health committee, said, "At the moment my plan is to go and remain masked but all of us need to evaluate this day to day." He declined to say whether Adams should change the venue.

There are also logistical challenges with hosting an indoor event. Taking account speeches and musical performances, inaugurations can be hours-long affairs. Given the risk for infection, that may have to change.

"They have to make sure everyone lives within the time constraints," said Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at NYU.

No matter what, he said, a lot is riding on the event. In recent decades, the mayor’s inauguration has become a hot ticket, drawing celebrities from political and entertainment circles alike. In 2014, former President Bill Clinton swore in de Blasio, while former U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton looked on. The guest list for Bloomberg’s inaugurations included Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler and Barbara Walters.

"It's not just a celebration of the officials but of the city as a whole," Moss said. "They've got to really manage this with great skill."

At least one veteran of the political scene was undaunted by the indoor setting.

George Arzt, a political consultant and former press secretary for Mayor Ed Koch, has attended every inauguration beginning with Lindsay's. They have all been outdoors.

"It's freezing out there," he said bluntly. "So I'd rather be inside."