NEW YORK (WPIX) — New Yorkers will see more signs of a return to pre-pandemic life Monday, as a curfew on outdoor dining was lifted and full subway service was restored.
Outdoor patrons can now hang at bars and restaurants past midnight, but the curfew on indoor dining remains in place until May 31. Still, many struggling business owners welcomed the eased restrictions announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month.
Restaurants and bars in the state have been struggling to stay afloat for more than a year because of strict health and safety restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A survey released by the NYC Hospitality Alliance in September 2020 found nearly 9 in 10 restaurants, bars and nightlife venues in the city could not pay full rent in August 2020.
Many restaurant owners in New York City have shuttered their doors for good, while others have tried to make due with limited outdoor seating space and indoor capacity limits.
Folks who take advantage of the relaxed outdoor bar and restaurant restrictions this week will also have a new way of getting home: the subway.
After more than a year of overnight shutdowns, 24/7 subway service resumed on Sunday.
The city’s subway system has been long celebrated for its all-night service. But in an unprecedented move in May 2020, subway service was shut down nightly between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. to allow transit workers and cleaning crews to disinfect trains and stations as COVID ravaged New York City.
Cuomo and Metropolitan Transportation Authority leadership announced in February that around-the-clock subway service would be gradually restored, beginning with a smaller shutdown window of 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., as a second wave of COVID cases and hospitalizations began to ebb.
Earlier in May, Cuomo announced the overnight closures would end on Monday, May 17. The final 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. closure occurred on Sunday and 24/7 service was restored when trains and stations reopened, MTA Chairman Pat Foye said.
The governor has vowed that the cleanliness of trains and stations would remain a priority after full service is restored.
The subway restoration and eased dining restrictions come ahead of an even larger reopening step set for Wednesday, when most capacity limits on businesses in New York will end.
All of this was made possible, according to the governor, through continued vaccinations against COVID-19, which have helped bring down the rate of virus transmission as well as the number of hospitalizations and deaths.
On Sunday, New York’s Department of Health reported 1,561 new cases out of 156,380 tests reported on Saturday — a positivity rate of 1%. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped to 1,583 — the lowest since Nov. 9, 2020.
Thirty-three new fatalities were reported, bringing the state’s death toll since March 2020 to 42,473.