Restrictions on the size of New York social gatherings will be eased somewhat from the end of this month, and limited numbers of venues, arts and entertainment venues will be able to reopen from April 2nd, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this afternoon.
From March 22nd, the outdoor gatherings will expand to 25 people. The limit values for indoor areas remain the same for 10 people. Social gatherings outside of the living area will be expanded to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors.
Arts and entertainment can reopen at 33% capacity with a maximum of 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors, the governor announced. If all participants provide negative test evidence prior to participation, capacity may be increased to up to 150 people indoors and up to 500 people outdoors under the revised guidelines. Social distancing and face covering are required for all participants.
Bob Castaldi, owner of the Suffolk Theater on Main Street, said the new rules would not help him reopen.
“It doesn’t do anything for us,” Castaldi said in an interview this afternoon. He said he couldn’t run the theater with a third of his staff or cut operating costs by two thirds. “It just doesn’t work that way,” he said.
“We have to be 100% to open again,” said Castaldi. Even then, he said, he wasn’t sure how it was going to work. Performers have tours. If he could open the doors of the Suffolk Theater tomorrow, he wouldn’t necessarily be able to get artists on his stage right away.
“We just have to see,” said Castaldi.
The Art Deco cinema, which Castaldi and his wife Diane renovated and reopened as a performing arts venue on March 2, 2013, was closed by COVID last spring.
Castaldi is frustrated and unhappy.
“I have friends in Florida,” he said today. “With a pretty good clip, everything clicks. Other states are reopening. Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease, ”he said.
“Let business people be business people. Let the people be free, ”said Castaldi. He believes the government should play a much tighter role, he said.
Cuomo said today he believes other states are “going too far too fast”.
The governors of the states of Texas and Mississippi yesterday signed executive orders that will allow all companies to reopen at full capacity. They also lifted mask mandates.
The federal centers for disease control and prevention have warned that the spread of the more contagious British variant is continuing and is expected to be the predominant strain of the coronavirus in the US by the end of this month. As a result, further spikes are almost inevitable, officials say.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky said Monday she was “deeply concerned” that a steady decline in cases and daily deaths appeared to be peaking recently.
“Please listen to me clearly: at this level of cases where variants spread, we will completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” Walensky said at a press conference on Monday.
“These variants are a very real threat to our people and our progress,” she said. “Now is not the time to loosen the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of Covid-19 in our communities, not when we are so close.”
Cuomo said today that there is an “omnipresent” threat. “The virus is constantly mutating. We can’t relax too soon. ” He said.
“I see,” said Cuomo. “COVID fatigue. Everyone wants all restrictions to be gone. Yes, but you have to be smart about the reopening as well. ”
The US is stepping up efforts to get the population vaccinated against the virus as quickly as vaccine doses can be made and dispensed. President Joseph Biden said yesterday that by the end of May the US will have enough doses to vaccinate “every adult American.”
New York test positivity rates continue to decline in most locations, as do nationwide hospitalizations and deaths.
The Long Island region had the highest positivity rate in the state yesterday at 4.2%. Suffolk’s positivity rate was 4.1%. These numbers have improved significantly compared to the holidays in the weeks after Christmas. From June to the end of October, however, the positivity rates in Suffolk were consistently below 2%.
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