People walk through local restaurants during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in New York City on March 11, 2021.
Eduardo Munoz | Reuters
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that the state would lift nationwide curfews on restaurants and a ban on bar seating in New York City. This is a major milestone in restoring a pandemic lockdown industry.
Sitting in bars will be allowed in New York City starting May 3, more than a year after restrictions were first introduced at the height of the pandemic.
New York City, once considered the country’s pandemic hotspot, has been hit hard by shutdowns. Due to severe bar and restaurant restrictions that began in March last year, the city suffered from widespread unemployment. According to the New York City Comptroller, more than 1,200 restaurants closed their doors permanently by July 2020.
The governor also announced that other curfews on food and beverage services in the state will also end. The outdoor dining curfew at 12 noon will end on May 17, and indoor dining curfews will expire on May 31st.
Curfews for all events with meals will be lifted on May 31, and curfews for events with meals where participants can prove a vaccination status or a recently negative Covid test result will be lifted by May 17.
Catering events in dormitories can also be resumed above the state meeting limit of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors from May 3, provided the events are manned by a licensed caterer and, according to a press release, strictly adhere to health and safety standards Security guidelines keep out of the governor’s office.
The announcements come as Covid numbers continue to decline in New York State and New York City. The rate of positivity is just over 2% nationwide and just over 6% in the city. The vaccination campaign is also making headway: 44% of New York State have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine.
“We know the COVID positivity rate is a function of our behavior, and for the past year New Yorkers have remained disciplined and continued practices we know to try to stop the virus from spreading,” Cuomo said. “By lifting these restrictions on restaurants, bars and catering businesses, these pandemic-ravaged businesses can recover as we return to a new normal in a post-pandemic world.”
The governor also announced that the capacity of gyms and fitness centers outside of New York City will increase from 33% to 50%, the capacity of casinos and gaming facilities from 25% to 50%, and the capacity of offices from 50% to 75% .
“To be clear, we will only be able to maintain this progress if everyone receives the Covid vaccine,” warned Cuomo.