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New York area will lift capacity restrictions May 19

New York area will lift capacity restrictions May 19
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The New York tri-state area will jointly lift most of the coronavirus capacity restrictions on businesses and restaurants starting May 19, governors announced Monday.

Govs. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' New York attorney general expanding Cuomo investigation: report Cuomo's communications director resigns MORE (D) of New York, Ned Lamont (D) of Connecticut and Phil Murphy (D) of New Jersey said retail stores, food services, theaters, fitness centers, amusement parks, hair salons, museums and other businesses will be allowed to operate at full capacity for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

"The tide is turning against COVID-19 in New York, and thanks to our increasing vaccination rates, as well as our successful, data-based regional approach, we're able to take more steps to reopen our economy, help businesses and workers, and keep moving towards returning to normal," Cuomo said in a statement.

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The announcement of May 19 represents a significant acceleration from the July 1 target for full reopening set by New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de Blasio3 shot, including 1 child, in Times Square New York area will lift capacity restrictions May 19 NYC 24-hour subway service resumes May 17 MORE (D) just four days ago.

A day later, Cuomo declared that indoor capacity would increase for restaurants and bars statewide from 50 to 75 percent starting on May 7.

The governors said on Monday that businesses will still be required to maintain the six-foot physical distancing guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Businesses will only be limited by the space available, they added.   

However, restaurants that require customers to be fully vaccinated, or show a negative COVID-19 test, do not need to follow the distancing requirements, Cuomo said.

Connecticut previously said outdoor restrictions would be eliminated May 1, including limits on table sizes and the requirement that food be served with alcohol

Monday's announcement was made as part of a broader loosening of restrictions. New York City's subway system will soon return to 24 hour service, and the state changed its outdoor gathering size limit. 

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Beginning May 10, the outdoor social gathering limit will increase from 200 to 500 people. 

On May 19, the indoor social gathering limit will increase from 100 to 250 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 results.

For vaccinated people, “life should be returning to normal," Cuomo said during a press conference on Monday. "You’re vaccinated. And it’s an incentive to be vaccinated.”