Event, arts and entertainment venues can reopen beginning on April 2, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced during his daily COVID-19 briefing on March 3.
Venues with less than a 10,000 person limit can begin reopening at 33% capacity in just under a month. These spaces will be able to host up to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors, with social distancing and face-covering regulations in place.
If all event attendees present proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entering the venue, gatherings can expand to 150 people indoors and up to 500 people outdoors. Social distancing and face-covering regulations will again remain in place.
Beginning March 22, outdoor residential gatherings can increase from ten to 25 people, while indoor residential gatherings should remain capped at ten people. Non-residential social gatherings can expand from 50 guests to up to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors.
The Governor’s announcement comes as statewide Coronavirus cases continue to drop. The statewide positivity rate was 3.53% as of March 3 with New York City’s positivity rate at 4.02%.
Governor Cuomo praised the statewide COVID-19 effort as case numbers have dropped to levels below what they were before the holiday outbreak.
“New Yorkers have done a tremendous job working to defeat COVID, and we’re gradually loosening restrictions as the numbers reduce and the public health improves. It’s clear that if we remain vigilant, we will reach the light at the end of the tunnel,” Governor Cuomo said.
Though many entertainment venues will benefit from the reopening, commercial productions on Broadway will remain closed for the time being as limited audience capacity cannot financially support a traditional Broadway show.
President of The Broadway League Charlotte St. Martin is predicting a fall return of Broadway plays and musicals.
President of the Times Square Alliance, Tom Harris, is encouraged by the Governor’s reopening plan and remains hopeful for entertainment venues. “Times Square is the heart of New York City and we look forward to welcoming audiences back to the area to enjoy live entertainment and culture safely,” he said.
New York budget director Robert Mujica announced the Empire Pass program at the March 3 briefing, an app made in partnership with IBM that will enable New Yorkers to present COVID-19 testing results at venue entries. The app has been tested at multiple events so far, including a recent Buffalo Bills game, and will be released as soon as next week.
With the user’s consent, the results of their COVID-19 test will automatically be reported on the app and can be used to gain entry into a test-required event. Mujica stated that PCR test results will be valid on the app for venue entry for 72 hours, while rapid test results will only be valid for 6 hours. The app will aid entertainment venues in their effort to safely reopen.
Though Coronavirus cases continue to decrease in New York state, with vaccination numbers greatly adding to this drop, Governor Cuomo urges New Yorkers to remain mindful that the virus continues to be a risk.
“While we continue to expand access to the vaccine throughout the state, New Yorkers should double down on the behaviors that make such an important difference fighting this pandemic—washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing,” Governor Cuomo said. “This is a tough footrace, but the infection rate is down and the vaccination rate is up, and New Yorkers will get through this together as long as we stay touch and keep this momentum heading in the right direction.”