New York museums, bowling alleys and gyms that have been shuttered for months will soon be allowed to reopen, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday, marking a significant turning point for a state that had been at the center of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision to allow the return of cultural institutions and other indoor activities will come with severe restrictions, including sharp limits on capacity. But Cuomo said the state’s continued ability to keep new Covid-19 cases under control made it possible to enter a new phase nearly five months after he put the state on lockdown.
“Given the results that we have and the progress that we’ve made, we’re going to make some more changes and adjustments,” Cuomo said at a news conference Friday.
New York state has recorded more than 25,000 deaths from Covid-19 and more than 423,000 positive tests results for the virus. The state and the city of New York have kept the rate of spread low even as some businesses were permitted to resume limited operations. Less than 1 percent of all tests conducted in the last week came back positive, Cuomo said, even as the state completed a “tremendous” number of tests.
Cuomo said the statistics make it safe for bowling alleys to reopen with 50 percent of their normal capacity and at least one empty lane between groups, among other restrictions. Guidance for gyms and fitness centers will be released Monday and comes after 1,500 gym owners filed suit against the state challenging their continued shutdown.
Museums, aquariums and other indoor cultural centers in New York City, passed over when the state entered the fourth phase of its reopening plans in July, will be allowed to reopen Aug. 24 — joining upstate institutions that have been operating for weeks. Capacity at these facilities will be capped at 25 percent and timed ticketing will be required, with pre-set, staggered entry and face coverings enforced.
The institutions had been held back even as each part of the state entered into the least-restrictive phase of New York’s reopening plan, prompting outcry from business owners and patrons that they were being singled out unfairly and having their livelihoods threatened.
New York City is still prohibited from holding indoor dining, the only part of the state under such restrictions. Restaurants elsewhere have been allowed to seat patrons inside in a reduced capacity.