Gov. Cuomo: ‘Major’ reopening of New York state on May 19, lifting many capacity restrictions

May 19th target for widespread lift of capacity restrictions statewide

NEW YORK CITY (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a coronavirus briefing Monday to update New Yorkers on the state’s ongoing coronavirus response efforts, including a target date of May 19 for a “major” reopening development, including:

  • Business capacity limits to be replaced with space available to maintain six feet of social distancing on May 19 in New York and New Jersey
  • Outdoor social gathering limit increases to 500 on May 10 in New York; indoor social gathering limit increases to 250 on May 19 in New York
  • Outdoor residential gathering limit is removed and indoor residential gathering limit increases to 50 on May 19 in New York
  • Large-scale indoor venue Capacity increases to 30% and large-scale outdoor venue capacity increases to 33% on May 19, proof of vaccination or recent negative test still required in New York

New numbers

The governor provided the following data Monday:

  • 113,139 COVID-19 tests reported Sunday
  • 2,200 new cases
  • 1.94% positivity rate
  • 1.79% 7-day average positivity rate (lowest since November 5)
  • 37 new deaths
  • 2,539 hospitalized
  • 613 in ICU
  • 379 intubated

“Our positivity rate has been going way down dramatically; 50% decline in the last month,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Congratulations to New Yorkers. Hospitalization rate, skiing down the mountain, 38% decline over the last month. Vaccination rate: The exact opposite, it’s been going straight up. We’re now up to 9 million New Yorkers with at least one dose, 7 million New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.”

Vaccination

Statewide vaccination progress, as of Monday afternoon, is as follows:

  • Total doses administered – 15,734,364
  • Total doses administered over past 24 hours – 91,035
  • Total doses administered over past 7 days – 1,183,484
  • Percent of New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose – 46.6%
  • Percent of New Yorkers with completed vaccine series – 35.2%

According to the CDC, New York has the largest share of fully vaccinated adults than any other “large population” state in the country, but the governor says the vaccination rate has started to decline.

“We started back in March, and we started slowly, doing 1.3 million doses per week,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We’ve been promoting it, advertising it. It went up April 5, April 12, dropped then dropped April 19, dropped April 26. Why the drop? That’s something we’re studying. Obviously the New Yorkers who were most eager to get the vaccine went out first. They got it and now you’re having New Yorkers who are less eager to get it.”

The governor reiterated the state’s focus on vaccination efforts is on “the youthful and the doubtful.”

“That’s our target: The young, and the doubtful,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Vaccine hesitant, anti-vaxers are about 20% of the population and that’s going to be a hard population to reach, but we’re working on it all the time. If there’s one thing the global healthcare community agrees on with COVID, the more vaccine, the better, and that’s why were working very hard, but it is irrefutable when you look at the numbers that New Yorkers have made progress.”

Reopening

With the COVID-19 situation improving statewide, the governor said New York state, along with a coalition of neighboring northeast states, will take a “major” step toward reopening.

“Beginning Wednesday May 19 most capacity restrictions will end across the tri-state area,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That includes retail stores, food service, gyms, fitness centers, amusement parks, and family entertainment centers, hair salons, barbershops, offices, museums, theaters, etc. No capacity restrictions on all of those activities.”

The governor said New York would continue to implement the CDC-recommended 6 feet of social distancing when around people, adding that the distancing could still restrict some capacity for certain businesses. He also said that businesses could implement their own capacity restrictions if they felt compelled to do so.

“If a person is vaccinated in New York or another county then those people’s life should be returning to normal,” Gov. Cuomo said. “You’re vaccinated and it’s an incentive to be vaccinated, so 6 feet CDC requirement unless it is organized around vaccination or negative test results. This is a major reopening of economic and social activity, and its coordinated regionally.”

The governor announced that on May 17, the MTA in New York City would resume 24-hour per day services for city commuters.

The governor said the next step for reopening New York is an opportunity to build a better state.

“Part of being New York tough is, yeah you knocked us down, yes it hurt, yes there was pain, but we’re going to get up and we’re not just going to get up, we’re going to get up smart, and strong, and united, and we’re going to make this a moment of opportunity because everybody has to rebuild,” Gov. Cuomo said.

From the governor’s office:

Social Distance-based Business Capacities

Effective May 19, most business capacities—which are currently based upon percentage of maximum occupancy—will be removed in New York and New Jersey. Businesses will only be limited by the space available for patrons or parties of patrons to maintain the required social distance of 6 feet. This new distance-based maximum capacity will apply across commercial settings, including retail, food services, gyms and fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services, among other settings. It will also apply in houses of worship.

Increase in Social and Residential Gathering Limits

In New York beginning May 10, the outdoor social gathering limit will increase from 200 to 500 people. Beginning May 19, the indoor social gathering limit will increase from 100 to 250 people. Also, the outdoor residential gathering limit of 25 people will be removed, reverting to the social gathering limit of 500 people with space for appropriate social distancing, and the indoor residential gathering limit will increase from 10 to 50 people. In New York, any event gatherings in excess of the social gathering limits may only occur if all individuals present proof of full vaccination status or recent negative COVID-19 test result.

Event Venues

Congregate commercial and social events in New York—such as those at venues that host sports competitions, performing arts and 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 four present either proof of full vaccination status or recent negative COVID-19 test result and the required social distancing can be accommodated.

Starting May 19, large-scale indoor event venues will operate at 30 percent capacity, which is an increase from the current 10 percent capacity limit. Large-scale outdoor event venues will operate at 33 percent. Social distancing, masks, and other applicable health protocols will still apply, including the requirement of attendee proof of full vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test result.

Industry Reopening Requirements

While most industry capacity restrictions will be lifted, industry-specific requirements will remain in effect for a longer period of time, including state or local health authority event notification, health screening, contact information for tracing, enhanced air handling and building system standards, hand hygiene, and environmental cleaning and disinfection protocols. The State will continue to provide additional guidance on these provisions as they apply to each industry.

Today’s announcement builds on Governor Cuomo’s recent measures to further reopen the economy amid a steady decline in New York’s COVID-19 positivity and hospitalization rates. On April 30, Governor Cuomo announced that New York City indoor dining will expand to 75 percent capacity beginning May 7, bringing New York City in line with the rest of New York. The Governor also announced that hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services will expand to 75 percent capacity beginning May 7. New York City gyms and fitness centers will expand to 50 percent capacity beginning May 15. On April 28, Governor Cuomo announced that the food and beverage service, and catered event, curfews would end this month.

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