Capacity restrictions on offices, theaters, museums and businesses, including retailers, bars and gyms, will be removed in all three states starting May 19, said Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, at a press conference on Monday.
The coordinated reopening reflects steps the three states took last year to shut down part of their economy as they faced a surge in coronavirus infections during the first wave of the pandemic.
It is the latest sign of how infections in the densely populated region, as well as the United States in general, are sharply declining as the country rushes to distribute vaccines.
The number of new Covid-19 infections peaked at around 95 per 100,000 people per day in New York City on January 12, and has since fallen to a per capita rate of around 17, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States.
To help reopen the economy, New York City is set to once again be served by a 24/7 subway system for the first time in over a year.
The metro will return to service 24 hours a day from May 17. The move will reverse a decision in early May last year by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the metro, to shut down the network between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. to implement improved cleaning and disinfection of carts and trucks. stations.
Individual businesses will be allowed to make their own decisions on capacity limits, and parts of the city will take longer to come to life, such as Broadway, which is unlikely to reopen soon due to the long time it takes to prepare for a show.
While the three states “don’t have identical policies because we’re in slightly different situations,” Cuomo said, the stages of reopening “would complement each other.”
New York mayor Bill de Blasio had previously said he planned to “completely reopen” the metropolis on July 1.
After a devastating winter wave of the disease, cases across the United States have declined. According to CDC data, the seven-day average of new coronavirus infections fell below 50,000 over the weekend for the first time since early October and is down 80% from its January high. Average daily deaths have hovered between around 630 and 720 per day over the past month, the lowest rates since early July.
Some other states have already eliminated or lifted many state-imposed restrictions, including Texas and Arizona. California lifted a stay-at-home order at the end of January, and its most populous county, Los Angeles, has eased more trade restrictions in recent weeks as the number of cases eased.
Florida lifted almost all of the pandemic-time restrictions in September, but then allowed local authorities to limit restaurant capacity to half. Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida, who has sharply criticized the strict lockdowns, has signed a bill that limits the emergency powers of officials during a pandemic, ending all local restrictions in his state.
The bill, which also bans the use of “vaccine passports”, will come into force on July 1. However, DeSantis plans to issue an executive order suspending local rules until then.
“I think it’s the evidence-based thing to do,” DeSantis said at a press conference at a restaurant in St. Petersburg. “I think the people who say they have to watch people at this point, if you say that, then you’re really saying you don’t believe in vaccines.”
Companies can always implement their own protocols, such as insisting that customers wear masks, DeSantis said.
The rapid decline in cases came amid a big push by states and the Biden administration to distribute the vaccines as quickly as possible. So far, the United States has administered nearly 247 million doses of vaccine, well above President Joe Biden’s target of delivering 200 million doses of vaccine in his first 100 days in office. . More than 44% of Americans have received at least one vaccine and 31.8% of adults are now fully vaccinated.
After an initial rush, some states are experiencing a drop in demand for jabs. Authorities are trying to lure reluctant people with incentives, including promises of relaxed restrictions, savings bonds and even free beers.
Despite the progress of infections nationwide, parts of the country are still trying to control further outbreaks. Oregon, which borders California, has deemed 15 counties “extreme risk” and instituted a three-week lockdown, closing gyms and indoor dining after an increase in cases.