(Reuters) -Most coronavirus capacity restrictions on businesses in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, including retail stores, food services and gyms, will end on May 19, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.
Cuomo said a steady decline in the positive rate of COVID-19 tests and hospitalizations across the state showed it was time to begin the reopening process. The percentage of New Yorkers testing positive for the coronavirus dropped 50% over the last month, and hospitalizations decreased by 37% during the same period, he told a news conference.
“New Yorkers have made tremendous progress,” Cuomo said. “It’s time to readjust the decision made on the science and on the data.”
Other businesses that will no longer be subject to state-imposed capacity restrictions are amusement parks, salons and offices. The governor also announced that the New York City subway will resume its 24-hour service beginning on May 17.
All businesses can still set their own capacity restrictions.
Certain protocols such as maintaining six feet of space between people will remain in place, Cuomo said, in line with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. Exceptions can be made at venues where people will have shown proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, he said.
The May 19 reopening preempts the plan New York Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined just days ago to re-open his city fully on July 1. De Blasio said on Thursday that his city could soon return to normal thanks to the progress of the vaccine rollout, noting 6.4 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the city of more than 8 million residents.
New York’s move comes just over a year after businesses across the state closed down and limited capacity to combat one of the country’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks. It follows updated guidance released by the CDC last week, which said people do not need to wear masks outdoors where social distancing is possible.
Florida Governor Ron Desantis on Monday also announced he was signing an executive order that overruled and suspended all local COVID-19 emergency orders, saying that widespread vaccination made it safe to do so.
(Reporting by Maria Caspani, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Evans)