New York to begin major reopening on May 19; full subway service to resume May 17

New York State will begin a major reopening on May 19 with most COVID capacity restrictions to be lifted while around-the-clock New York City subway service will be allowed to resume on May 17, announced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday.

With continued declining rates of the coronavirus, the governor, speaking to a room of reporters, said it was time to allow retail, food services, gyms and fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barbershops, and offices to fully reopen.

"No capacity restrictions on all of those activities," Cuomo said.

The six-foot social distancing requirement will remain in effect unless all people present can prove they've been vaccinated or can show a recent negative test.

"If the CDC changes their guidance, then we'll change our guidance," added Cuomo.

All the various sectors of the economy including Broadway may choose to open on a different date due to critical mass limitations.

New Jersey and Connecticut will join the Empire State in following the same plan, according to Cuomo.

"The key is a smart reopening," added Cuomo. "It is a measured reopening. We are at a point now that we are going to take a major step to reopening."

Subways to resume 24-hour service; riders, workers worry about crime

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement the upcoming lifting of restrictions are a "hard-earned milestone" in the pandemic fight. 

"As vaccination numbers continue to grow and new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to rapidly decline — now is the time to reopen," Curran said. "Nassau is ready to reopen — our residents are ready, our businesses and downtowns are ready — let's do this."

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Outdoor food and beverage curfew will be lifted on May 17, indoor food and beverage curfew will be lifted May 31, the indoor catered gathering limit can increase to 250 or 500 with testing and vaccine on May 19.

Getting a table at Serena's Wine Bar and Restaurant on the Upper East Side is about to get a whole lot easier.

"I'm really happy that we can rehire back people," manager Hasan Senyurt said. "Many people that used to work for us, unfortunately, they have left New York and gone to different places."

Around-the-clock subway service was suspended on April 30, 2020, in order to facilitate deep cleaning of the trains and the clearing of homeless people from the trains and stations. 

The overnight closure ran from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. until February and then was shortened to two hours from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.

Last week, the city's largest labor unions representing hundreds of thousands of workers sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio urging him to send more police officers underground after a surge of violent crimes on the trains and in the stations throughout the pandemic.

RELATED: NYPD to deploy more cops to Manhattan as unions plea for transit protection