Major New York State Reopening Beginning on May 19, 2021

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Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued more than 100 executive orders that principally focused on restrictions related to public health and the economy.

With approximately 60 percent of eligible New Yorkers having received at least one dose of the vaccine and increasingly lower rates of infections and deaths related to COVID-19, New York State has announced that as of May 19, most capacity restrictions will end for retail, food services, gyms and fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, houses of worship, hair salons, barber shops, offices, museums, Broadway and baseball. The soon-to-be-expiring capacity restrictions have been based on a percentage of a venue’s maximum occupancy. As of May 19, the only remaining restriction will be for patrons to maintain six feet of social distance, but even that restriction will be waived if such patrons present proof of full vaccination or recent negative tests.

As of May 17, the midnight outdoor food and beverage curfew will be lifted, while the midnight indoor food and beverage curfew will be lifted on May 31. The outdoor social gathering capacity limit increased to 500 people on May 10, while the indoor catered gathering limit will be increased to 250 people (or 500 people with negative tests or proof of vaccination) on May 19. Residential gathering limits will also change, with the indoor limit increased to 50 people and the outdoor limit to 500 people as long as there is enough space for social distancing. Outdoor large stadium capacity will increase to 33 percent for unvaccinated attendees, while there will be no capacity limit for those who have been vaccinated. The MTA will resume 24-hour subway service beginning on May 17. Broadway shows will reopen at full capacity on September 14, and tickets are currently available for sale. New York is expected to release updated industry-specific guidance on an ongoing basis to correlate with the easing of these and other restrictions. Further information can be found here.

As has been widely reported, on May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that masks and social distance are not necessary in most settings for fully vaccinated individuals. Governor Cuomo has said he plans to review the new federal guidelines with the New York State Department of Health before making any decisions regarding modifications to state and local guidance for individuals and businesses.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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