COVID-19 restrictions loosen across the country, reopening underway


NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — As more Americans get vaccinated, and the COVID-19 infection rate declines, the nation is opening up again.

It’s happening gradually — in many cases just in time to save businesses from financial ruin — but it’s met with a stern warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which cautions that the decrease in cases may be stalling, urging governors not to relax restrictions.

New York, the nation’s largest city, which set a new one-day vaccination record Thursday, nearly 62,000, just completed a big week of reopening, with more to come.

Middle school students have returned to class in New York City, indoor dining at restaurants went to 35% capacity Friday, and there are even signs of life on Broadway. However, there’s no indication that reopening will happen anytime soon.

When it does, theatrical director Steve Broadnax III promises to be ready. His play “Thoughts of a Colored Man” will open the instant Broadway does. The sign is already up on the marquee. 

“It represents hope for the community,” Broadnax said. “Hope for Broadway, that we will reopen.”

New York’s movie theaters are scheduled to open in a week, with assigned seating and a maximum of 50 people per screen.

Preparations are being made to reopen Coney Island on April 9 with masks, social distancing, and other COVID-19 protocols in effect.

“We finally got guidance, which is great,” said D.J. Vourderis, who operates Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. “And what we’re happy about is science-based guidance.”

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NewsNation affiliates have been checking in from across the country with stories of life gradually returning to normal.

WGN reported Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is instructing local agencies to start planning for annual summer events, like concerts and festivals, and the crowds that go along with them.  

KTLA says Disneyland, closed since the start of the pandemic, will be holding a mini-reopening on March 18, a limited-capacity event dubbed ‘A Touch of Disney.’ 

In North Carolina, the state removed its curfew Friday, opening up outdoor sports like high school football with strict limits on crowd sizes.

In Georgia, businesses are seeing a badly-needed spike in revenue as more people come out of isolation.

“Today has been insane,” one vendor told NewsNation affiliate WRBL. “It’s all we can do to keep up.”

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam allows outdoor social gatherings to expand starting Monday, along with outdoor entertainment venues.

Business owners say it’s a small but welcome step forward after a very challenging year.

“It would be great to know what a real, normal summer would look like here,” said Virginia Beach Restaurant Manager James Orlando. “Because we haven’t had one yet.”

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