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Many capacity restrictions in NY, NJ and Conn. to end May 19: Cuomo

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New York is re-opening for business. 

Most capacity restrictions on venues including restaurants, offices, churches, museums and theaters will end May 19 across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

“Today we announced a major reopening of New York State on May 19th,” Cuomo said at a press briefing. “It’s a phased reopening, but we are point at a point now where we are going to take a major step forward in reopening.

He added in a release that the easing of restrictions “will apply across commercial settings, including retail, food services, gyms and fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services, among other settings. It will also apply in houses of worship.”

Cuomo’s announcement appeared to one-up Mayor de Blasio, who has been calling for the Big Apple to fully reopen on July 1.

The governor added that indoor events can grow from 100 to 250 people on May 19, following social-distancing guidelines, and can be at greater capacity if proof of testing or vaccination is in place. 

Large outdoor large stadiums were already set to increase to 33 percent capacity on that day, and Cuomo said that cap would remain — though he would work with this counterparts in neighboring states to go higher, while still requiring attendees get tested or vaccinated.

People gather at Mala Project in the East Village.
While many capacity restrictions are being lifted, CDC guidance still calls for social distancing where proof of a negative test or vaccination is not required.
James Keivom

Still, Cuomo told reporters that the current CDC guidance calling for 6-foot social distancing will stay in place at establishments where proof of a negative test or vaccination are not required. 

“It is fully open —  subject to 6 feet,” Cuomo said. 

Venues such as eateries can get around that rule if they have physical barriers up, noted state Budget Director Robert Mujica.

“For restaurants, if they want to go within 6 feet or less, we’ve always had a rule in place which allows them to put physical barriers in place … which allow them to go less than 6 feet,’’ he said at the briefing.

In New York City, the current indoor dining curfew of midnight will remain in effect till May 31.

The state’s COVID-19 numbers have continued to trend downward. The seven-day average positivity rate is at 1.79 percent — down 50 percent over the last month, Cuomo’s office said. 

“Our positivity rate has been going way down dramatically,” Cuomo said. “Congratulations to New Yorkers. Hospitalization rate skiing down the mountain, 38 percent decline over the last month. Vaccination rate, the exact opposite, has been going straight up. We’re now 9 million new Yorkers with at least one dose, 7 million new Yorkers fully vaccinated.”

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