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New York City, once the COVID-19 epicenter, expands indoor dining to 75% capacity


(NEW YORK) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that indoor dining in New York City will expand to 75% capacity starting May 7, matching restrictions elsewhere in the state.

Cuomo also said hair salons and barber shops can expand to 75% capacity that same day. Capacity at New York City gyms and fitness centers will increase to 50% starting May 15.

He said he’ll rescind the executive order that created the micro-cluster zones strategy to tackle neighborhood outbreaks as a result of declining COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the city.

“After a long and incredibly difficult fight, New York state is winning the war against COVID-19, and that means it’s time to loosen some restrictions put in place to protect the public health and help our local businesses,” Cuomo said.

“We’re easing restrictions on restaurants, personal care services and gyms to put more money in the pockets of small business owners and working people in New York City, which was hit so hard by the pandemic, but, I have no doubt, will come back stronger than ever,” he added.

Earlier this week, Cuomo said the 12 a.m. food and beverage curfew for outdoor dining areas will be lifted May 17 and May 31 for indoor dining.

Cuomo’s easing of restrictions comes on the heels of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement Thursday that he wants the Big Apple to fully reopen July 1.

“This is going to be the summer of New York City,” he said Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” adding, “Based on all the progress we’ve made, we are ready to reopen full strength.”

That means restaurants, bars, stores, hair salons, gyms, arenas, theaters and museums will be able to open at full capacity.

New York emerged as the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis early on in the pandemic.

New York City recorded a seven-day rolling average COVID-19 positivity rate of 3.24% Wednesday. More than 6.4 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Big Apple as of Friday, according to city health data.

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