New York and its neighbors New Jersey and Connecticut will welcome crowds again on May 19, state officials said on Monday, a major milestone for a region that was once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
Restaurants, offices, retail stores, theaters, museums, hair salons, amusement parks, gyms and fitness centers will all be allowed to operate at full capacity for the first time since. that restrictions were enacted last year to prevent the spread of the virus.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York on Monday announced the easing of restrictions in the event of a pandemic as part of broader efforts to increase economic activity, including lifting curfews for food services. New York will also return to 24-hour subway service on May 17.
“Today is a milestone for New York State and an important time of transition,” Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, said at a press conference in his Manhattan office.
Mr Cuomo, in announcing sweeping changes to the pandemic restrictions, appeared to be trying to speed up New York’s recovery and once again eclipse his political rival, Mayor Bill de Blasio. Last week, the mayor set himself the goal of July 1 for the complete reopening of the city.
Still, Mr Cuomo acknowledged on Monday that immediately restarting operations may not make practical or economic sense for some businesses, such as the Broadway theaters. Last week, the Broadway League said theatrical performances would likely not resume until September.
Businesses in New York will still need to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing guidelines, which require a minimum of six feet of space between individuals.
Thus, crowd sizes will always be limited by space constraints, but businesses will not need to adhere to the six-foot rule if they require all people to present full proof of vaccination or a test result. coronavirus negative, Cuomo said. Restaurants can also get around the six-foot rule by putting up barriers between tables.
For people who have received the vaccine, Mr Cuomo said, “Life should be back to normal. You are vaccinated. And that’s an incentive to get vaccinated. “
The governor’s announcement came less than a week after Mr. de Blasio announced that New York City would fully reopen by July 1, a proclamation that angered Mr. Cuomo, who has the final say on capacity restrictions in the state.
Mr. Cuomo’s announcement effectively accelerated the expected end of capacity restrictions by more than a month.
“As Mayor de Blasio said, it will be the New York summer,” said Bill Neidhardt, the mayor’s press secretary, after Mr. Cuomo’s announcement. “We can’t wait to see more details and are excited to see the city fully reopen this summer.”
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which manages the city’s metro system, initially closed the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. subway service on May 6 last year, as the number of subway riders fell in part. when commuters avoided public transport and worked from home. MTA teams were dispatched to thoroughly clean and disinfect the subways during closures.
But as recently as February, the MTA shortened overnight metro closures from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. and signaled that it planned to resume 24-hour service soon. MTA officials said Monday they plan to continue deep cleaning and disinfection during metro opening hours. Recently, the CDC recognized what scientists have been saying for months: The risk of catching the coronavirus from surfaces is low.