The MTA will resume 24-hour service Monday May 17, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday, May 3.
Additionally, Cuomo announced a “major reopening” of New York on May 19, which would include ending business capacity restrictions in retail stores, food establishments, barbershops, offices, and indoor entertainment venues. Indoor dining capacity limited will be lifted May 31, NBC 4 reported.
While capacity restrictions are removed, health measures such as health screening, hygiene, and disinfection protocols will continue.
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, and indoor residential gathering limit will be increased from 10 to 50 people.
The restriction rollback was coordinated with Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut.
“This is a major reopening of economic and social activity and it is coordinated regionally, which is smart,” Cuomo said.
“With our COVID-19 numbers, particularly hospitalizations, trending decisively in the right direction and our vaccination goals within reach, now is the time to take major steps to reopen our economy and loosen both indoor and outdoor gathering and capacity restrictions,” said Murphy in a statement. “We’ve done this the right way, in partnership with our neighboring states of New York and Connecticut, and by allowing data, science, and public health to guide our decision-making.”
There is a caveat to the capacity restrictions rollback, which is that the 6 feet social distancing rule must be maintained, which is technically a separate capacity restriction. The social distancing requirement does not apply if people have proof of a negative Covid test or proof of a vaccine.
“It’s fully open, subject to six feet,” Cuomo said, regarding restaurants. Rob Mujica, an aide, said that restaurants would be able to get around the 6 feet issue by putting up barriers between tables.
The state can open “literally, everything back to normal,” Cuomo said, if they continue to hit the vaccine goals. The statewide Covid positivity rate is 1.79%, the lowest since November 5, and represents a 50% drop over the last month.
The MTA halted round the clock service for the first time in its 116 year history on May 6, 2020, due to the lockdown imposed as a pandemic measure. All stations were closed between 1 and 5 a.m. to be thoroughly cleaned, Gothamist reported.
At the time it had closed, ridership had fallen 90%. Since then, ridership has steadily increased, but is still only a third of what it was prior to the pandemic, according to data from online database Qri.io, which counted the weekly turnstile swipes published by the MTA.
On Sunday, New York Senator Chuck Schumer urged the state to reestablish 24/7 service, saying, “This is New York City. People work at 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., that’s how we are,” he said, according to ABC 7. “New York’s famous for having 24-hour subway service and we’re here to urge the MTA to restore that service ASAP.”
Updated Monday, May 3, 2021 at 12:19 pm .
Updated Monday, May 3, 2021 at 1:17 pm .