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New York City Set to Fully Reopen July 1

By Devorah Lev-Tov

May 3, 2021

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Remember prepandemic summers in New York City?

Photo by Shutterstock

Remember prepandemic summers in New York City?

Additionally, New York State, New Jersey, and Connecticut are ending most capacity restrictions on businesses on May 19.

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According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City can expect to fully reopen on July 1.

“We need to start sprinting now as part of this recovery, we need to bring New York back as strong as ever,” the mayor said during an April 29 press briefing. “July 1st is a really fair date that we can make happen.”

A full reopening means restaurants, bars, stores, shops, small businesses, hair salons, barbershops, gyms, theaters, stadiums, music venues, and museums can be open at full capacity, de Blasio said. The mayor also hopes to see subways return to running 24 hours a day (they are currently closed for cleaning between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.), although New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has the final say on that.

“This is going to be the summer of New York City. You’re going to see amazing activities, cultural activities coming back,” said de Blasio.

A few days after de Blasio announced the reopening plans, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, together with the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut, said the three states would all but eliminate capacity restrictions on businesses starting on May 19. 

“The tide is turning against COVID-19 in New York,” Cuomo said in a May 3 statement announcing the updates. “We are now able to increase capacity limits for businesses, event venues, and residences to reflect what we’re seeing in the COVID data.”

Effective May 19, businesses in New York and New Jersey will only be limited by the space available to allow customers to maintain six feet of distance between them (versus the percentage-based capacity restrictions currently in place). Connecticut will also eliminate all remaining capacity restrictions on businesses and at large event venues starting on May 19. 

Beginning May 10, the limit on outdoor social gatherings in New York will increase from 200 to 500 people. And on May 19, the limit on indoor social gatherings will increase from 100 to 250 people. The limits do not apply if all in attendance have either been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or can present proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test result.

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In July 2020, New York City began a phased reopening plan. Initially, low-risk outdoor activities were able to resume, and museums, retail stores, restaurants, and bars could reopen with capacity restrictions. In October 2020, movie theaters were allowed to reopen with 25 percent capacity limits and no more than 50 people inside. Sports arenas can now operate at 10 percent capacity with a negative COVID-19 test required to enter, and other outdoor arenas and arts venues are operating at 20 percent capacity.

Increased vaccination rates have helped the city’s decline in positive COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. De Blasio’s goal in January was to get 5 million New Yorkers vaccinated by end of June, and he said he is still working toward that goal. According to the most recent data, more than 3.5 million New York City residents have received the first dose and just under 2.5 million people are fully vaccinated in the city.

It is currently New York State law for all people over the age of two to wear a mask when in public and unable to maintain a distance of six feet from others and the mayor indicated that will continue for now.

“We want people to assume [they need] to keep [their] masks on through June. After June, I think we’re going to be in the position to do things differently,” said de Blasio, while acknowledging that many New Yorkers will likely continue wearing masks.

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At the end of the briefing, de Blasio credited the people of New York City for following the health and safety protocols as the reason the city was able to emerge from being the epicenter of the pandemic last spring to now being one of the U.S. cities with the lowest COVID-19 positivity rates and one of the highest rates of vaccination.

“People of the city did it. People have done the right thing, over and over again,” said de Blasio. New Yorkers “should feel really good about the fact that we can see the light at the end of tunnel.”

Is Broadway open?

Broadway has been dark since March 12, 2020. Although theaters will be allowed to fully reopen on July 1 along with all other businesses, because of the long lead time required to put on a production, September has been indicated as the likely main reopening season for Broadway. Some smaller, more intimate shows might open on Broadway in July or August, the mayor said.

Are hotels in New York City open?

Yes. Under the current guidelines, all hotels and lodgings in New York City can welcome guests with health and safety protocols in place. Check to see if things like the fitness center and spa are open and what protocols hotels are implementing. Some major hotels that have remained closed due to a drop in demand are set to reopen in the coming weeks. Examples include the Plaza Hotel, which reopens May 20; Ritz-Carlton, New York, Central Park, which reopens June 2; and the Peninsula New York, which reopens June 1, 2021. Park Hyatt New York and Mandarin Oriental reopened on April 1. The 873-room Westin New York at Times Square reopened on April 29.

Are bars and restaurants open?

Since March 19, New York City restaurants and bars have been able to operate at 50 percent capacity indoors and must close between midnight and 5 a.m. Governor Cuomo announced on April 28 that the midnight curfew for bars and restaurants will be lifted on May 17 for outdoor dining and on May 31 for indoor dining. He also announced that bar seating will be allowed to return to New York City on May 3.

Last September, de Blasio announced that sidewalk and curbside outdoor dining would become a permanent fixture in the city.

Are there any restrictions on travel to New York?

The quarantine requirements (which started at 14 days and eventually went down to 3 days) for domestic travelers arriving into New York State that Governor Cuomo put in place last June expired on April 1, 2021. All New York area airports are open and flights are operating as scheduled.

As of January 26, a nationwide order mandated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires international arrivals to provide documentation of negative COVID-19 test results procured within 3 days of their departure to the United States.

For international travelers arriving into New York City, fully vaccinated individuals are recommended (but not required) to get tested 3 to 5 days after arrival. All unvaccinated international travelers are recommended to get tested 3 to 5 days after arrival in New York, consider a self-quarantine (7 days if tested on day 3–5, otherwise 10 days), and to avoid contact with people at higher risk for severe disease for 14 days, regardless of test result.

NYC & Company, the city’s tourism marketing organization, has an up-to-date resource page with information on openings, capacity limits, and health and safety protocols.

This story was originally published on April 29, 2021, and was updated on May 3, 2021, to include current information.

>> Next: AFAR’s Ultimate Guide to New York City

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