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New York Governor Says Most State COVID-19 Capacity Restrictions Will End May 19

Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a news conference in New York on May, 3, 2021, to announce that capacity restrictions for most types of businesses will end statewide beginning May 19.

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday all state-enforced COVID-19-related capacity limits on retail businesses will be lifted May 19 in what he called a “smart reopening.”

In a briefing, Cuomo said he was lifting the restrictions in coordination the neighboring state of New Jersey, just as the two states coordinated their lockdowns about 14 months ago. He said they are in consultations with Connecticut to the north on many of these decisions.

The governor said he has always followed the science regarding pandemic restrictions. For this decision he cited a COVID positivity rate that declined by 50 percent in the last month, to 1.9 percent, and a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control ((CDC) that said New York state had the highest number of fully vaccinated adults in the country.

Cuomo said there will be no state-ordered limits to how many people can be inside retail and food services establishments, gyms, amusement and family entertainment businesses, hair salons, barbershops, offices and more at one time.

The governor said that includes New York City’s Broadway theater district, although it takes time to develop show schedules and sell tickets. He said the state is in ongoing discussions with the theater industry as to what their opening will look like.

However, indoor face coverings will remain the norm in the state for the time being.

Cuomo also said most social distancing guidelines will remain in effect, in line with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, except in the case of gatherings at events where all individuals present proof of full immunization or recent negative COVID-19 tests.

The governor said large outdoor stadiums will go to 33 percent capacity effective May 19. Cuomo said New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are working to coordinate joint COVID protocols for those big arena spaces as the openings progress.

Last week, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio said he wanted to fully open the city by July 1st. Cuomo said at that time he did not want to make predictions but thought, if they did everything right, that New York City could open before then.

On Monday, Cuomo said if vaccinations stay on track within the next two months, New York state, including the city, can fully reopen, meaning, "literally, everything back to normal."