Cuomo announces easing of COVID-19 restrictions

The measures include the imminent resumption of 24-hour operations on the New York City subway.

Ben Ariel ,

Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced a major easing of coronavirus restrictions, including the imminent resumption of 24-hour operations on the New York City subway, AFP reports.

From May 19, percentage limits on occupancy will be scrapped for many business and cultural venues in the city -- including shops, restaurants, cinemas and museums, Cuomo said.

These limits currently vary between 33 and 75 percent capacity.

Businesses will be allowed to welcome as many people as they want provided six feet of social distancing is maintained, as recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Outdoor gathering limits will double from 250 to 500 people, while 250 people will be able to get together indoors, up from 100.

Larger gatherings will be allowed if everyone in attendance is either vaccinated or recently tested negative.

Large-scale indoor event venues will be able to operate at 30 percent capacity, up from 10 percent currently, while outdoor sports stadia will operate at 33 percent.

Cuomo said underground trains services in the Big Apple will resume around the clock on May 17.

New York was at point the epicenter of the United States' COVID-19 outbreak.

Cuomo at times came under fire for his handling of the pandemic, particularly when he blamed large gatherings in the hasidic community for the spread of COVID-19, highlighting selichot prayers in Satmar-Kiryas Joel and event in Chabad-Crown Heights as examples of "social distancing violations".

The Governor was also criticized after a report was published which showed that the state health department may have undercounted the number of deaths from the coronavirus at nursing homes by as much as 50%.