It’s been one year since the city first shut down due to COVID-19. It’s been a long and painful 365 days, but we are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Nearly 12 percent of New Yorkers have been fully vaccinated, and we have reopening dates for nearly every aspect of city living, including sports stadiums and arenas, restaurants, events, museums, weddings, amusement parks, movie theaters, and travel. Ahead, we’ve put together a list of all the reopening dates and details in New York City. We’ll be updating this list as more information becomes available.
MUSEUMS + OTHER CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS
As of August 24th, indoor museums were able to reopen at 25-percent capacity with guidelines that include timed ticketing, pre-set staggered entry, face-covering enforcement, and controlled traffic flow. Most museums require timed tickets to purchased in advance.
More than 50 branches of the New York Public Library are currently open for grab-and-go pickups and book returns. The Library’s research centers remain closed but are serving patrons virtually. The Brooklyn Public Library has opened lobby service at most of its locations, while more than 30 locations of the Queens Public Library are open for to-go service.
THEATERS + VENUES
Events, arts, and entertainment venues can reopen indoor spaces at 33 percent capacity or up to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors as of April 2. If all attendees present proof of a negative coronavirus test prior to entry, capacity can increase to 150 people indoors and 500 people outdoors. (Broadway, however, will not be reopening yet due to high operating costs that make limited capacity financially unsound. Though it’s not official, many in the industry hope to begin reopening in the fall.)
In February, New York state started “NY PopsUp,” a program that’s part of Governor Cuomo’s Arts Revival initiative aimed at bringing back art and culture to the state. Through June, the state will support more than 300 outdoor pop-up events and performances, culminating with the opening of Little Island at Pier 55 and the 20th anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival. By this time, the governor expects there will be at least 1,000 performances and events held.
LARGE ARENAS + STADIUMS
Starting April 1, sports venues can host fans at 10 percent capacity indoors and 20 percent capacity outdoors. Smaller, regional venues that hold 1,500 people indoor or 2,500 people outdoor can reopen starting April 1, with the same capacity restrictions. Stadiums, which could include outdoor performing arts venues, are considered “large” if they hold more than 2,500 people.
For the baseball season, Yankee Stadium can accommodate 10,850 fans and Citi Field can have 8,384 fans. “As the COVID rates continue to improve, capacity rates will continue to increase,” Cuomo said during the announcement.
Large arenas and stadiums were able to begin welcoming back fans and audiences on February 23 at a 10 percent capacity. Organizations must first submit a plan to the state’s Department of Health for approval. Requirements include face coverings, social distancing, temperature checks, spaced-out assigned seating, and a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of the event for fans.
Venues approved so far include the Barclays Center, where the Brooklyn Nets are currently playing, and Madison Square Garden, where the Nets and Rangers are currently playing. Tickets are on sale for concerts at MSG venues including Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre, and the Garden itself beginning with shows scheduled for the end of April.
GYMS & FITNESS STUDIOS
Gyms have been open at a limited capacity across New York state since September. Beginning March 22, indoor fitness classes were allowed to resume at 33 percent capacity and with face-covering requirements. According to the state, classes should be scheduled to allow extra time for cleaning and disinfection between sessions. On April 5, the state lifted the 11 p.m. curfew currently in place at gyms.
Indoor entertainment centers can reopen starting March 26 at 25 percent capacity, while outdoor amusement parks and rides can reopen on April 9 at 33 percent capacity. Both groups must disinfect high-touch areas throughout the day, have staff enforce compliance, and sell timed tickets in advance. Customers will be required to have a health screening and temperature checks and face coverings and social distancing will be mandated.
Billiard and pool halls were able to reopen on March 5 with 35-percent in New York City and 50-percent capacity outside of New York City.
New York City movie theaters were able to reopen on March 5 at a 25 percent capacity with a 50-person limit. Theaters in the rest of the state were previously allowed to reopen under these guidelines in October. Masks are required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking. Assigned, social-distanced seating is required.
WEDDING RECEPTIONS + CATERED EVENTS
As of March 15, wedding receptions and catered events in New York can take place with 50 percent of a venue’s capacity, up to 150 people. These events, which must be approved by the local health department, will require all guests to receive a rapid COVID test or be fully vaccinated and to provide contact-tracing information. According to the state’s current guidelines, masks should be worn at all times when not eating or drinking, including while dancing. Venues must create “zones” for dancing that are at least six feet apart and are where members of the same household can dance.
RESTAURANTS + FOOD
On February 14, New York City restaurants were able to re-start indoor dining at 25 percent, and on February 26, the capacity was increased to 35 percent. On March 19, once again increased to 50 percent (in the rest of the state, it increased to 75 percent). The closing time for bars, restaurants, and other businesses was also extended from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. State rules for indoor dining require temperature checks, tables set up six feet apart, and face coverings required for all diners when not seated at a table. Outdoor dining continues and has been made permanent and year-round.
Last May, NYC shut down 24-hour subway and bus service to disinfect trains, buses, and stations, but in February, the system began closing for cleaning from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. instead of from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Effective May 1, indoor and outdoor graduation and commencement ceremonies will be allowed with limited attendee capacity, depending on the event size and the location. Detailed guidance for graduation events is available here.
Starting April 1, domestic travelers will no longer need to quarantine when entering New York. International travelers must still observe a mandatory quarantine, even if fully vaccinated. All travelers must fill out the state’s Traveler Health Form upon arrival in the state. All of the latest travel details can be found here.
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on March 1, 2021, and has been updated with new information.
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