US NEWS

When will New York City subway open 24-hour service?

State officials announced Monday that New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will ease restrictions on 19 May, reopening businesses to full capacity.

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When will New York City subway open 24-hour service?
ANGELA WEISS AFP

For the first time since restrictions were put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, businesses in the tri-state region will be allowed to operate at full capacity. New York City will also resume 24-hour subway service on 17 May.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement moves forward the expected reopening of New York City by six weeks “Today is a milestone for New York State and a significant moment of transition,” Cuomo said. Last week New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared this would be the "Summer of New York City” with the city fully reopening 1 July.

What coronavirus capacity restrictions will be lifted?

Most coronavirus capacity restrictions on businesses will be dropped in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Restaurants, retail stores, theaters, museums, barber shops, gyms and fitness centers will be allowed to operate at full capacity. As well, offices and amusement parks will no longer be subject to state-imposed capacity restrictions.

However, Cuomo said that businesses will still need to conform to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on social distancing. This will mean a minimum of six feet of space between individuals. But businesses can get around the rule if they require people to show proof of vaccination or a negative covid-19 test. Restaurants can also erect barriers between tables to get around the six-foot rule.

Not all businesses will fully reopen, the Broadway League has said that tickets for theatrical performances there are cancelled through 30 May, and it is expected they will probably not resume until September. Cuomo in his announcement was conscious of the fact that immediately restarting operations might not make practical or economic sense for some businesses.

New York is the only state currently that has approved and is using a covid-19 vaccine passport for digital certification of a negative covid-19 test or proof of vaccination. The Excelsior Pass allows businesses to check if people attending events are vaccinated or have a negative covid-19 test within a certain time frame. Using the pass is voluntary but businesses may require customers to present some proof of vaccination to gain access to an event.

Why are restrictions in New York being eased?

Although New York City and the surrounding area was once the epicenter of the pandemic in the US, there has been much progress made in vaccinating the population. "New Yorkers have made tremendous progress," Cuomo said. "It's time to readjust the decision made on the science and on the data."

During the press conference Cuomo used the steady drop in the positive coronavirus test rate  and hospitalizations across the state as proof that it was time to begin the reopening process. The covid-19 positivity rate has declined by 50% over the last month, while over the same period hospitalizations decreased by 37%.

“life should be returning to normal. You’re vaccinated. And it’s an incentive to be vaccinated,” Cuomo said to encourage more people to go out and get vaccinated. Currently 6.4 million doses of vaccine have been administered to the more than 8 million residents of New York City. Statewide over 46 precent of the population has received at least one dose, with just over 35 percent of the state fully vaccinated.

Although ridership numbers on the city’s subway system are still far below pre-pandemic levels, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which runs the system, had signaled that they planned to resume 24-hour service prior to today's announcement. MTA officials said on Monday that deep cleaning and disinfecting during subway operating hours would continue after the 17 May restart of 24-hour service.