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Cuomo slates 'major reopening' in New York for May 19


New York state will begin a “major reopening” later this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday, with most capacity limits at businesses, venues, and other areas scheduled to be lifted on May 19.

Capacity limits will no longer be set for retail stores, restaurants, bars, gyms, fitness centers, recreational venues, hair salons, offices, and other areas, Cuomo said.

But New York will keep a requirement for individuals to maintain six feet of distance at all times unless every individual at an event or venue can prove they’re vaccinated or show a negative COVID-19 test result.

That won’t apply to restaurants, where parties will still have to be seated at least six feet from each other or separated by physical barriers, Cuomo said.

"This is a major reopening of economic and social activity, and it's coordinated regionally, which is smart," Cuomo said.

Cuomo framed the changes as the first phase of the state’s final reopening as New York’s COVID-19 indicators continue to drop. As of Monday, the statewide positivity rate was 1.94%, and hospitalizations had fallen to 2,539.

New York is also scheduling other areas of reopening for around the same time, Cuomo said, like a restoration of 24-hour service for the MTA in New York City. That’s scheduled to resume May 17, Cuomo said.

The curfew for bars and restaurants will also be eliminated later this month. The curfew for outdoor dining will be lifted May 17, while the curfew for indoor dining will be lifted May 31. That was previously announced.

More phases of the state’s reopening are expected to be announced in the coming weeks, Cuomo said, as New York continues to plot out its post-COVID economic strategy.

Cuomo said the state will explore ways to leverage the end of the pandemic to rebuild New York’s economy and infrastructure with a look toward international precedent.

“We think there’s an opportunity here, and we’re going to rebuild a totally new New York,” Cuomo said. “We’re going to take this moment to reset internationally and we’re going to use it to our advantage.”

Dan Clark is the host and producer of New York NOW, a weekly television show focusing on state government produced by WMHT in Albany. Clark has been reporting on New York state government and politics for the last six years, during which time he's worked out of the state Capitol in Albany. Clark reported for the national political fact-checking publication PolitiFact, the Buffalo News, the statewide political television show Capital Tonight, and most recently the New York Law Journal. At the New York Law Journal, Clark has focused on state legal challenges to President Donald Trump, as well as litigation concerning laws enacted by the New York State Legislature. Clark covered the Legislature in each role he's held and is a familiar face to state lawmakers and staff. Clark is a native of Afton, NY in Chenango County. He's lived in Albany with his husband since 2011.