The shows must go on.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that music and arts venues in New York can reopen with limited capacity and coronavirus precautions, barreling ahead with the state’s return to normal even as COVID-19 infection rates remain elevated.
Effective immediately, performing arts venues statewide can open their doors to customers at 33% capacity, with a cap of 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors, Cuomo said in a statement.
If all patrons can show proof of being fully vaccinated or a fresh negative coronavirus test, venues can allow 150 people indoors and 500 people outdoors, the governor added. Six feet of social distancing, face masks, health screenings prior to entry and other state-mandated health protocols are also required, according to Cuomo.
“New York’s beloved arts and entertainment venues have been hard hit by the public health guidance we’ve implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19, and after a long and difficult period, I am glad to see them reopen their doors to New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “Attendees will need to follow strict guidance to keep themselves and others safe, but they’ll now be able to watch world-class performances and take part in our state’s thriving arts and culture scene once again.”
The green light for show business came as the State Department of Health reported New York’s seven-day average coronavirus positivity rate is 3.6%, one of the highest such data points in the country. Another 63 New Yorkers died from COVID-19 on Thursday, according to the latest data from the Health Department.
But Cuomo, who’s facing an impeachment probe over alleged sexual harassment and coronavirus mismanagement scandals, suggested the fast pace of vaccinations in New York is giving the state reason to proceed with reopenings.
At the same time, the governor urged New Yorkers to continue adhering to social distancing, face mask usage and other pandemic precautions.
“The pandemic isn’t over and New Yorkers have to stay vigilant. It’s critical that we continue washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing across the state to slow the spread and keep each other safe,” he said.
The reopening of performing arts spaces comes on the heels of restaurants in the city being allowed to resume indoor dining at 50% and gyms hosting in-person fitness classes at 33%.
President Biden, whose administration is pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into the historic campaign to vaccinate Americans, expressed unease earlier this week about how fast some states are moving in reopening their economies even as infection rates are surging anew.
“Our work is far from over. The war against COVID-19 is far from won,” Biden said at a briefing Monday while pleading with unspecified states to slow down a bit. “This is deadly serious.”