Thursday, March 30, 2023

New York To Ease COVID-19 Restrictions on Size of Gatherings

New York state will ease Covid-19 restrictions on the size of gatherings at sports and entertainment venues and in residential homes as coronavirus cases decline from a January peak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

Large venues can reopen at 33% capacity on April 2, with caps of 100 people for indoor gatherings and 200 people for outdoor events, said Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat.

Venues that conduct testing, such as sporting events, will be permitted to have 150 people indoors and 500 people outdoors. Attendees will be required to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

Beginning March 22, outdoor capacity for residential gatherings will increase to 25 people from 10, but the indoor limit will remain at 10.

New York state has an overall Covid-19 positivity rate of 3.53%, according to health data. The positivity rate peaked at 7.94% in January amid a surge in cases during the holiday season.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is in sight, but we can’t stop driving now,” the governor said, speaking at his first press briefing since last week after three women accused him sexual harassment.

Mr. Cuomo said that New York is expecting around 164,800 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which will allow state-run vaccination sites at the Javits Center and Yankee Stadium to operate 24-hours a day. The one-shot dose of the vaccine is easier to distribute because it doesn’t require super-cold storage, the governor said.

Since last year, more than 38,000 New Yorkers have died of Covid-19, according to state health data. New York has been slowly reopening after restrictions to slow the spread of the virus.

Sports and entertainment venues reopened Feb. 23 after being closed for nearly a year. The state first tried out its testing strategy for large-scale events when it allowed spectators to attend a Buffalo Bills playoff game at the team’s stadium in January.

The Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden reopened to limited spectators for Nets and Knicks games in late February. The venues must follow strict testing protocols.

Following Wednesday’s announcement, the Big East college basketball conference said each school participating in next week’s tournament will be given tickets for family, friends, and team staff to attend games.