New York COVID-19 Response

On Sunday, February 21st, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the State’s daily positive rate has fallen below 3% for the first time since November 23rd. While daily COVID deaths remain above 100, daily hospitalizations and daily intubations are declining as well. Because of this, the Governor has said that the State will now be turning its focus back onto reopening the economy.

On Wednesday, February 17th, it was announced that indoor family entertainment centers will be allowed to reopen beginning March 26th, outdoor amusement parks can reopen on April 9th, and overnight summer camps can plan to reopen in June with a testing protocol. The State Department of Health (DOH) will be announcing guidance for each in the weeks ahead. On Friday, February 19th, the Governor announced that indoor dining capacity in New York City restaurants will increase to 35% beginning February 26th. The Governor also announced that the DOH has recommended reopening visitations at nursing homes. The DOH is recommending that all visitors take a rapid test before enter the nursing home. New York State DOH will provide rapid testing to nursing homes at no cost.

On Monday, February 22nd, the Governor announced that beginning March 5th, movie theaters in New York City and Billiard/Pool Halls statewide will be allowed to reopen and practice the following guidance:

Movie Theaters in NYC

  • Venues are restructured to 25% capacity, with no more than 50 people per screen at a time.
  • Masks will be required at all times except when seating and eating or drinking.
  • Assigned seating will be required in all theaters.
  • Social distancing between parties will be required at all times.
  • Additional staffing will be required to control occupancy, traffic and seating to ensure compliance.
  • Enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards must be met by theaters.

Billiard/Pool Halls

  • Halls are restructured to 50% capacity outside of New York City; 35% in New York City.
  • Masks will be required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking.
  • Mandatory social distancing must be enforced, or physical barriers between parties of patrons/players must be installed.
  • Each party must be assigned to a table to avoid comingling.
  • Staff must rigorously clean and disinfect any rented or shared equipment between use.

Wedding & Catered Events – Also, beginning March 15th, weddings and catered events can resume statewide if they practice the following guidance:

  • Venues are restructured to 50% capacity, with no more than 150 people per event.
  • All patrons must be tested prior to the event.
  • Sign-in with contact information required to assist with potential contact tracing.
  • Venues must notify local health departments of large events, above social gathering limit, in advance.
  • Masks will be required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking.
  • Ceremonial and socially-distanced dancing allowed under strict guidelines.

The Governor has continued to reiterate his belief that testing is key to reopening the economy as well as colleges and universities. Therefore, the Governor has released updated guidance for infection rates and testing protocols at college and universities. The Governor recommends that college and universities test at least 25% of total on-campus students, faculty and staff weekly. Although strongly encouraged, it is not required. The new guidance states that, colleges testing at least 25% of their on-campus population will be required to go on pause if their positivity rate exceeds 5% during a rolling 14-day period. Colleges and universities not testing at least 25% of their on-campus population weekly will be required to go on pause if they have 100 individuals test positive during a rolling 14-day period.

Regarding the vaccination progress, the Governor announced on Friday, February 19th, that 3.5 million doses of the COVID vaccine have been administered, and 12.1% of New Yorkers have received their first dose. The Governor also announced that two FEMA mass vaccination sites targeting “socially vulnerable” communities will open in Brooklyn and Queens on Wednesday, February 24th. Scheduling for these sites opened only for residents of the specifically targeted community on Saturday, February 20th. After one week, scheduling for these sites will open up to all residents of each borough. Lastly, the Governor also announced that, on March 3rd, four more mass vaccination sites will open outside of New York City – in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, and Yonkers.