Most Pandemic Restrictions in New York and New Jersey to Be Lifted Beginning May 19th

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York state, including the city, can fully reopen at some point within the next two months if vaccinations stay on track, meaning, “literally, everything back to normal”
  • He announced a joint plan with New Jersey to lift almost all capacity restrictions there and in New York on May 19; social distancing will remain in place in the Empire State with certain exceptions
  • Meanwhile, bar seating returns to NYC Monday for the first time in 14 months while indoor dining and personal care biz capacity go to 75% in days; round-the-clock subway service will return on May 17

Most pandemic-related capacity restrictions in New York and New Jersey will be lifted beginning May 19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday. The plan employs the same regionally coordinated spirit the two neighboring governors deployed when they first shut down their states more than 13 months ago.

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Some industry-specific requirements will remain in effect for a longer period of time around health screening, air filtration and contact tracing, for example, Cuomo noted, but from the statewide perspective, they will be essentially gone in barely more than two weeks. That means no executive-ordered limits to how many people can be in retail and food services establishments, gyms, amusement and family entertainment businesses, hair salons, barbershops, offices and more at one time.

Broadway effectively would be able to open that day, though it takes time to develop show schedules and sell tickets, Cuomo acknowledged. To hammer out the next steps, the state is in ongoing talks with the Broadway League, which applauded the easing of capacity limits, but didn’t say exactly when it would be ready to return.

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“We look forward to reopening at full capacity and are working to safely welcome audiences and employees back to Broadway this fall,” the Broadway League said in a statement.

The only capacity limits that will remain in place across New York and New Jersey as of May 19 are for large-scale indoor and outdoor venues and indoor/outdoor social and residential gathering limits. Large indoor and outdoor venues will go to 30 percent and 33 percent max capacity that day. Proof of vaccination or recent negative COVID test will still be required in New York. Cuomo said the three tri-states are working to coordinate joint COVID protocol for those big arena spaces going forward.

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