On May 2, 2021, Governor Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Murphy and Connecticut Governor Lamont announced a significant easing of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on the region’s businesses, venues and gatherings given significant progress in vaccinations and sustained reduction in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
Effective May 19, most business capacities which are currently based upon percentage of maximum occupancy will be removed in New York and New Jersey. Businesses will only be limited by the space available for patrons or parties of patrons to maintain the required social distance of six feet. This new distance-based maximum capacity will apply across commercial settings, including retail, food services, gyms and fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services, among other settings. It will also apply in houses of worship.
The announcement includes an increase in social and residential gathering limits, as well as updates for event venues. Beginning May 10, the outdoor social gathering limit will increase from 200 to 500 people. Beginning May 19, the indoor social gathering limit will increase from 100 to 250 people.
Mass commercial and social events in New York, such as those at venues that host sports competitions, performing arts and live entertainment, and catered receptions can exceed the social gathering limits of 500 people outdoors or 250 people indoors if all attendees over the age of four present either proof of full vaccination status or recent negative COVID-19 test result and the required social distancing can be accommodated.
While most industry capacity restrictions will be lifted, industry-specific requirements will remain in effect for a longer period of time, including state or local health authority event notification, health screening, contact information for tracing, enhanced air handling and building system standards, hand hygiene, and environmental cleaning and disinfection protocols. The state will continue to provide additional guidance on these provisions as they apply to each industry.
HR Works will continue to monitor this topic and provide updates as new information becomes available.