New York capacity restrictions going away, but social distancing stays for some

Coronavirus

In this image taken from video from the Office of the N.Y. Governor, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference about the state budget, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in Albany, N.Y. (Office of the NY Governor via AP)

NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — New York will take some of its biggest steps towards a pre-pandemic way of life in May, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

Cuomo said most capacity restrictions in New York City will end Wednesday, May 19. That includes retail, dining, gyms, theaters, Broadway plays, salons and offices, among others.

However, the state still wants venues to enforce social distancing guidelines, so if a restaurant cannot do that at full capacity, they’ll be forced to scale back to a level where they could. Cuomo said they can skip that rule if they require proof of vaccination or a negative test.

“If you’re vaccinated then you are in a different situation,” Cuomo said. “If you have a negative test, you’re in a different situation, though I prefer vaccinated.”

In the rest of New York, outdoor and indoor dining curfews will lift May 17 and 31, respectively. As a result, the subway will resume 24/7 service on May 17. Catered gatherings indoors can have 250 guests without testing or vaccines, or 500 with them, as of May 19.

Professional and college stadiums can welcome a third of their full capacities beginning May 19. Cuomo said he’s working with the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut to build a coordinated strategy that would allow those numbers to go up. It could hinge on proof of vaccinations.

This comes as the state’s three statistics of concern — positivity rate, hospitalizations and vaccination percentage — have shown steady signs of improvement. The positivity rate declined 50% in the last month hospitalizations fell 38%, and more than a third of New York residents are fully vaccinated.

“I believe in the trajectory we’re seeing,” Cuomo said.

The governor said this moment presents an opportunity for New York to leapfrog other megacities like Chicago and Los Angeles in the U.S. and others in Europe. He pledged the state would come out cleaner and smarter as it reopens.

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