NEW YORK (WABC) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a "major reopening" of New York state scheduled for May 19, when capacity limits will be fully lifted for retail stores, restaurants, bars, gyms, fitness centers, recreational venues, hair salons, offices, and more.
Businesses are trying to plan and get things in place for that day, although many say it will be sometime before they are able to return to normal.
The move is being made in conjunction with New Jersey and Connecticut, though there are some differences in how the states will operate.
"We live in a tri-state area," he said. "New York should not be a competitor with New Jersey or Connecticut."
Cuomo said current CDC guidance that calls for six-foot social distancing must be followed at establishments where proof of a negative test or vaccination is not required, but that will not apply to restaurants, where parties can be closer if separated by physical barriers.
Restoration of 24-hour MTA service in New York City will coincide with the May 17 lifting of outdoor curfews for bars and restaurants, while the indoor dining curfew will be lifted May 31.
Cuomo said the MTA has made tremendous gains in cleaning the subway system and removing the homeless.
"The trains must remain clean, and we have to help the homeless," he said. "We can't go backward on the quality of service."
He noted though that with the restrictions lifted, people will be working around the clock and will need subway service.
"Workers are going to need to get back and forth, now you will have people working until 4 a.m. again," Cuomo said.
"Obviously having 24/7 service is a blessing for a lot of New Yorkers, and so I'm glad it's back as part of our recovery," Mayor de Blasio said.
The capacity limit on indoor catered gatherings will increase to 250 on May 19, or 500 with testing. The limit on residential gatherings will increase to 50.
Outdoor large stadium capacity will go to 33% in New York on May 19, and all three states are working on a joint protocol for stadiums that would allow us to go higher with a testing or vaccinated caveat.
Cuomo said that venues can choose to allow only vaccinated people, with the hope that it may encourage the reluctant to get a vaccine.
The governor noted that Broadway, although allowed to reopen, would need more time to ready their shows.
The Broadway League released the following statement in response to the reopening plan:
"We applaud the Governor's recent announcement easing capacity limits on performance venues in New York State. We are encouraged by this good news, which is a long-awaited indication that New York is truly on the road to recovery. We look forward to reopening at full capacity and are working to safely welcome audiences and employees back to Broadway theatres this fall. As always, we continue to work closely with our elected officials and will share more information as soon as plans become finalized."
Full Details of Tri-State Announcement:
Effective May 19, most business capacities -- which are currently based upon percentage of maximum occupancy -- will be removed in New York and New Jersey. Businesses will only be limited by the space available for patrons or parties of patrons to maintain the required social distance of 6 feet. This new distance-based maximum capacity 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.
Increase in Social and Residential Gathering Limits
In New York beginning May 10, the outdoor social gathering limit will increase from 200 to 500 people. Beginning May 19, the indoor social gathering limit will increase from 100 to 250 people. Also, the outdoor residential gathering limit of 25 people will be removed, reverting to the social gathering limit of 500 people with space for appropriate social distancing, and the indoor residential gathering limit will increase from 10 to 50 people. In New York, any event gatherings in excess of the social gathering limits may only occur if all individuals present proof of full vaccination status or recent negative COVID-19 test result.
Congregate commercial and social events in New York-such as those at venues that host sports competitions, performing arts and live entertainment, and catered receptions-can exceed the social gathering limits of 500 people outdoors or 250 people indoors if all attendees over the age of four present either proof of full vaccination status or recent negative COVID-19 test result and the required social distancing can be accommodated.
Starting May 19, large-scale indoor event venues will operate at 30 percent capacity, which is an increase from the current 10 percent capacity limit. Large-scale outdoor event venues will operate at 33 percent. Social distancing, masks, and other applicable health protocols will still apply, including the requirement of attendee proof of full vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test result.
Industry Reopening Requirements
While most industry capacity restrictions will be lifted, industry-specific requirements will remain in effect for a longer period of time, including state or local health authority event notification, health screening, contact information for tracing, enhanced air handling and building system standards, hand hygiene, and environmental cleaning and disinfection protocols. The state will continue to provide additional guidance on these provisions as they apply to each industry.
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