ALBANY, N.Y. (UPDATED) – New York will lift most capacity restrictions on May 19 as part of a regionally-coordinated reopening with New Jersey and Connecticut.
On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that limits on the number of people at retail stores, restaurants, gyms, fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment venues, hair salons, barber shops, offices and churches will go away. However, these establishments must still be able to maintain 6-feet of social distancing, so capacity will only be limited by the space the business has available to keep people at least 6-feet apart.
"Thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers and our partners in government, we are now able to increase capacity limits for businesses, event venues and residences to reflect what we're seeing in the COVID data," said Cuomo. "Maintaining this progress is critical and in order to keep moving in a positive direction, New Yorkers must continue to take all the proper precautions. If we let up now, we could slide backwards and that is something nobody wants."
For larger event gatherings, Cuomo said the 6-foot distancing rule can be bypassed if everyone in attendance is required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or full vaccination.
“For events that can show proof of vaccination or recent negative tests, the 6-foot limit does not need to apply, OK," said Cuomo. "So, it’s 6 feet, but if you say, ‘Look, I’m only going to allow press in the room who are fully vaccinated, I’m only going to allow people in the restaurant who are fully vaccinated, or just took a negative test, then you can go above the 6 feet.”
Restaurants can also maintain less than 6 feet of social distancing of physical barriers are in place between tables and booths.
Outdoor large stadiums will also increase to 33% capacity starting May 19. New York will work with New Jersey and Connecticut on joint protocols for stadiums moving forward, according to Cuomo.
As previously announced, outdoor social gathering limits will increase from 200 to 500 people, and indoor social gatherings can allow up to 250 people starting May 19. According to Cuomo, sports competitions, performing arts, 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 4 provide proof of full vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test result, and the required social distancing can be accommodated.