Cuomo: NYC Restaurants Get Big Boost Next Week, Then Gyms as Full Reopening Nears

Capacity limit increases are coming for NYC gyms and personal care businesses soon, too; the governor says New York state, including the city, can fully reopen before July 1 if vaccinations stay on track

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What to Know

  • Indoor dining in New York City will go to 75% capacity next Friday, while personal care business capacity gets boosted to 75% the same day; citywide gyms and fitness centers can expand to 50% May 15
  • It's the latest in a series of newly announced reopening steps for the one-time epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic; restaurant curfews will end next month, while bar seating returns to NYC on Monday
  • The governor says New York state, including the city, can fully reopen at some point within the next two months if vaccinations stay on track, meaning, "literally, everything back to normal"

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that New York City's indoor dining capacity will expand to 75% in a week in line with the limit for the rest of the state's restaurants, while citywide gyms and fitness centers will go to half capacity in mid-May.

Hair salons, barbershops and other personal care services can go to 75% next Friday as well. Cuomo also said his previous executive order that established the micro-cluster zone strategy employed to curb COVID spread at a hyperlocal level last fall would be rescinded given the state's progress in its ongoing pandemic war.

It's the latest in a series of newly announced reopening steps for the one-time epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this week, Cuomo said he'd soon end his longstanding statewide food and beverage service curfew for both indoor and outdoor dining areas, while allowing bar seating to return to New York City Monday for the first time in more than a year. Offices, large-scale outdoor events and concert venues are slated for capacity increases in the coming weeks, too.

"We're easing restrictions on restaurants, personal care services and gyms to put more money in the pockets of small business owners and working people in New York City, which was hit so hard by the pandemic but, I have no doubt, will come back stronger than ever," Cuomo said.

Restaurant curfews and bar restrictions will soon be lifted in New York. Gilma Avalos reports.

The executive director for the NYC Hospitality Alliance, Andrew Rigie, said Cuomo's Friday announcement "provides a shot of optimism to small business owners and workers who have been financially devastated over the past year."

"We look forward to working with Gov. Cuomo's administration to safely reopen New York City, so we can get the restaurant capital of the world cooking again," he added.

The latest developments come as Cuomo noted a possible end in sight to all New York COVID restrictions within the next two months, meaning "literally, everything back to normal," for the virus-ravaged Empire State that has lost tens of thousands of lives and suffered incalculable economic losses for the last 15 months.

New York City is aiming for a full reopening on July 1, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday, suggesting a total removal of COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place for well more than a year by early summer. He did not specifically detail steps to achieve that goal, nor did he lay out which COVID precautions may stay in place through summer or any other requirements. Meanwhile, in Jersey City, in-person learning kicked off after months of remote learning. Andrew Siff and Gaby Acevedo report.

While Cuomo said he was hesitant to make projections, calling them "irresponsible," he said he didn't want to wait until July 1, which was the date de Blasio pitched earlier Thursday to fully reopen the city. The state's core COVID metrics and the vaccination progress indicate that long-awaited reopening could happen sooner. But it's contingent on people continuing to get vaccinated, he said.

Cuomo stressed that last point again on Friday, especially as it relates to New Yorkers age 16 to 25. They were the last groups to become eligible for shots and have the lowest vaccination rates, accordingly.

He called on high schools to help bus 16- and 17-year-old students to vaccine sites if they have their parents' permission and reminded younger people it's critical they got shots too, even if they're at lower risk. It's easier than ever to get shots.

"We're making great progress in our efforts to get every New Yorker vaccinated, but the rate of people getting vaccines is slowing," Cuomo said Friday. "The vaccine side is available - it's been tested, it's safe and it won't cost anything to get. We have a vast distribution network in place to get shots in arms and now every eligible adult can walk into a mass vaccination site without an appointment to get vaccinated.

"Nothing is standing in your way, so go get the vaccine. It's the best way to help one another and it is the ultimate weapon to win the war against COVID," he added.

While the state doesn't break out vaccination data by age group on its vaccine demographics page, data from New York City Health Department's immunization registry show that 16% of residents age 18-24 are fully vaccinated and 35% have had at least one dose. No separate data on 16- and 17-year-olds are available.

Twenty-seven percent of New York City residents age 25-34 are fully vaccinated, compared with 61% of those age 65-74, the highest rate for any of the city's 10-year age brackets.

New Jersey does include data for 16- and 17-year-olds, 1% of whom have been fully vaccinated, state data shows. Eleven percent of those 18-29 can say the same. Asked about Cuomo's reopening announcement this week, Gov. Phil Murphy told New Jersey to "stay tuned" for potential reopening and vaccine news on Monday.

Murphy did indicate Friday that he did not feel New York was acting prematurely in his latest reopening moves, which could mean a boost for indoor dining in the Garden State too in short order -- as well as more vaccine walk-in options.

The latest vaccine outreach efforts highlight the importance of getting vaccinations done as quickly as possible in order to return to normal. They've helped to bring the city’s core COVID metrics to their lowest levels in months, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

He hit the halfway mark to his goal of fully vaccinating 5 million New York City residents by the end of June on Thursday, the same day New Yorkers of any eligible age got the walk-in option at all state-run mass vaccine sites.

The walk-ins at state-run sites are for first doses only. Most of the state-run mass vaccine sites administer the Pfizer vaccine, which can be given to anyone age 16+. The second dose of the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be scheduled automatically after the first shot is administered, according to the governor.

"We want to get to a point where there are no excuses," Cuomo said.

De Blasio opened all city-run sites to walk-ins of any eligible age last week.

Not sure how the process works? Check out our handy tri-state vaccine site finder and FAQs here

New York City and New Jersey Vaccine Providers

Click on each provider to find more information on scheduling appointments for the COVID-19 Vaccine.

Data: City of New York, State of New Jersey • Nina Lin / NBC

As of Friday, more than a third of New Yorkers (34.1%) now report a completed immunization series, while 31% of New York City residents, more than 2.6 million people, are fully inoculated, state data shows.

Nationally, 39% of U.S. adults age 18 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. That number is even higher among adults age 65 and older, 68.8% of whom have completed their shot series.

People younger than 18 account for just 0.5% of all fully vaccinated people in the U.S., while those 18-29 are just 9.7% of that group.

The highest full vaccination rate by age group nationally is the 50-64 bracket (27.6%), CDC data shows.

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