New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are just weeks away from a major step forward in their COVID-19 recovery.
The three states are coordinating their reopening effort, much like they did their pandemic-related shut downs more than 13 months ago.
Pandemic restrictions limiting business activity at restaurants, museums, retail stores, offices, theaters and Broadway productions will be lifted, beginning May 19, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.
24/7 subway service will be restored in NYC as of May 17.
Some businesses are welcome to opt to keep capacity restrictions, but from the state level, those restrictions will be almost entirely repealed, Cuomo said.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy explained Monday that after his state duly lifts restrictions on May 19 "Restaurants will be allowed to operate at whatever capacity allows them to continue to ensure a minimum six-foot distance between groups."
Indoor face coverings will remain the norm for the time being.
New York State is in ongoing talks with Broadway as far as how to handle the next steps. Broadway shows will technically be allowed to reopen on May 19, but it will likely take more time for productions to restart and sell tickets.
New Jersey is allowing venues that hold 1,000 people or more to increase capacity to 30 percent with six feet of distance between groups.
According to Cuomo, the only capacity limit that will remain in place in New York as of May 19 is for large outdoor stadiums. Capacity as stadiums will increase to 33 percent.
With capacity limits largely gone, the state will continue to emphasize social distancing, per CDC recommendation, except at events where all those in attendance can present proof of full immunization or recent negative COVID test results.
On Friday, indoor dining capacity in NYC increases to 75 percent.
Cuomo, as he often has over the past year, cited the state's data-driven approach to reopening. He reported a 50 percent drop over the last month in single-day COVID positivity and the fewest COVID-related hospitalizations since Nov. 26, 2020 — a 44 percent decline since April 1.
Nearly 35 percent of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated, including 32 percent of city residents. Cuomo's administration is continuing to emphasize vaccination, especially among 16 - 25-year-olds, the last demographic to earn vaccine eligibility. They are hopeful high schools and colleges will play a role in getting young people immunized.
Gov. Murphy said New Jersey is putting into "overdrive" its vaccination effort, hoping to have 4.7 million New Jerseyans immunized by June 30.
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