NYC, NJ Ease Restaurant & Bar Rules as Core Viral Metrics Fall to 6-Month Lows

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Restaurants, bars and personal care businesses in the city finally join the rest of New York in welcoming back patrons up to 75% capacity Friday. It's the same day the five boroughs' recorded their lowest rolling positivity rate in half a year and a day after the state reported its lowest single-day COVID death toll (23) since Nov. 10.

At this point, the capacity bump is truly a phased means to an end, with the entire tri-state area planning to lift nearly all remaining capacity limits in less than two weeks as part of a coordinated reopening effort by the governors of the three states.

New Jersey won't budge its indoor dining capacity limit, which remains at 50%, but that'll evaporate completely by May 19 anyway. Gov. Phil Murphy had planned a series of reopening measures for this coming Monday but moved the date up to this Friday.

Effective immediately, people can sit at bars again in New Jersey (Gov. Andrew Cuomo permitted New York City to do the same earlier this week), while capacity at events like proms and weddings and other indoor gatherings like funerals, memorial services and political events increases to 50% or a maximum of 250 people.

People can also gather in groups up to 500 people outside. For outdoor venues with 1,000 or more fixed seats, capacity increases to 50% as long as social distancing is maintained. Outdoor carnivals and fairs are included, Murphy said.

Social distancing will be required in New York and New Jersey once the tri-state pulls its major reopening lever on May 19, but the governors of both states have said they are open to changing that rule if the CDC adjusts its guidance on the matter. Indoor masking, however, will remain the norm for some time to come.


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