A Message from DoNYC
This is a difficult time for the city and the amazing arts and entertainment community of New York. It's extremely important that when this passes, we all go out and support the venues, restaurants, museums, bars and stores we love so that they recover from the economic impact of this situation as fast as possible. In the meantime, we recommend regularly checking the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's website for all the latest updates and directives. We're not health and safety experts; we're experience experts.
We're all about helping you have the night of your life, every night, and will continue to do so in the best way possible. Thanks for your continued support and the support of our community!
Now on to the news:
Updated May 11th, 2021
Rough Trade is Moving to Rockefeller Center
Months ago, Rough Trade shared that it would be leaving its longtime Williamsburg location for a new home in the city while reassessing the beloved vinyl shop's future post-pandemic. Yesterday, Rough Trade revealed the new location - 30 Rockefeller Plaza, steps from Radio City Music Hall. While the new store won't contain a concert venue, Rough Trade will continue to have artist signing events as well as becoming a programming partner for The Rock in both the 65th floor Rainbow Room and the plaza itself. Read the announcement from Rough Trade here.
NYC Announces Subway Vaccination Sites
Eight pop-up vaccination sites are available along your public transportation route this week, including Penn Station, Grand Central, Coney Island, Myrtle-Wyckoff in Brooklyn, E.180 St. in the Bronx, 179 St. in Queens, LIRR Hempstead and MetroNorth Ossining. The sites offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are incentivizing vaccinations with a free 7-day MetroCard through May 16th. The sites are for walk-ins only, and will issue 300 doses per day. Learn more.
Updated May 10th, 2021
Vaccines Available for All US Residents
New York State has relaxed its residency requirement to get a COVID vaccination. All US visitors are now eligible to walk into city and state-run sites for a vaccine, a step in the direction of the mayor's desire to offer vaccine sites for tourists in key locations as the tourism industry recovers. Eligibility is also expected to be expanded to 12-15 year olds soon pending FDA guidance. More details are available here.
Updated May 7th, 2021
NYC Launches City Artist Corps
Yesterday, Mayor de Blasio announced a new program to help usher in the ":Summer of New York," and put struggling artists back to work in the process. The City Artist Corps is a new program that will provide $25 million in grants to hire artists to create public works and performances to help restore the cultural center of New York. The city plans to hire over 1,500 musicians, muralists, performers and other artists throughout the summer, offering aid to an industry that has been hit the hardest by the pandemic. Of course, the City Artist Corps will be integrated into several existing initiatives, including the Open Streets and NY Pops Up programs. Details are still being worked out about the program, but the city hopes to have the first performances and installations in place by July 1st, de Blasio's original target date for a full reopening. More information is available here.
Updated May 6th, 2021
Broadway Returns on September 14th
Theatre kids rejoice! The Broadway League announced that on September 14th, the curtain will rise on the Great White Way. Tickets to Broadway shows are on sale now, and all productions are planning to resume normal operations at 100% capacity. Exact details about vaccination requirements and mask mandates will be made closer to opening day, while theatre operators use the initial on-sale to gauge interest and start the laborious process of bringing a play to the stage. More information is available here.
Baseball Stadiums Create Vaxxed and Unvaxxed Sections
Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that baseball stadiums could open up some sections at full capacity, but only for vaccinated fans. The new guidance will allow the Mets and Yankees to create two separate sections, one for vaccinated people at 100% capacity, and one for unvaccinated people at 33% capacity with six feet of distance between seats. Kids under 16, who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine, will be allowed to sit in the vaccinated section as long as they're accompanied by a vaccinated person. Both teams have clarified that the unvaccinated sections will not just be cheap seats and nosebleeds, both sections will have equal placement within the stadiums.
Plus, both Citi Field and Yankee Stadium will be offering vaccinations before the games, so fans can stop by early to receive their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine - and get free tickets to a future game by doing so! More information is available here.
Updated May 4th, 2021
Most Capacity Limits to be Removed May 19th
Governor Cuomo decided to up the ante on Mayor de Blasio's plan to reopen NYC by July 1st, announcing this morning that the state would remove almost all capacity restrictions by May 19th. The roll back on the restrictions will affect gyms, offices, barber shops and salons, retail stores and even Broadway theaters. Concert venues will still be limited to 250 people indoors or 500 outdoors, unless they require a negative test or proof of vaccination, in which case they too can operate without a capacity limit. The six-foot distancing restrictions will also remain in place, but can also be circumvented by requiring a negative test or vaccination, or in the case of restaurants and bars by placing a barrier between tables that are closer than 6 feet. Large arenas and stadiums are some of the few locales that will still face capacity limits at 33%, although the governor did specify that he was looking to increase the limit for those venues soon. More information about the new regulations is available here.
Updated May 3rd, 2021
24-Hour Subway Service Returns May 17th
Later this month, New York will once again be able to call itself the city that never sleeps. On May 17th, the MTA will resume 24-hour subway service after over a year of overnight closures for cleaning. Governor Cuomo announced the move this morning, saying that it was important not just to resume normal service, but to preserve the level of cleanliness that overnight cleanings have brought on, and to help the homeless who have been evicted from the trains by the closures.
Indoor Dining, Gyms, Barber Shops and More Increase Capacity
On Friday, May 7th, city restaurants will join the rest of the state in operating at 75% capacity. On the same day, salons, barber shops and other personal care services will also be allowed to move from 50% capacity up to 75% capacity. A week later on May 15th, gyms and fitness centers will be allowed to increase from 33% to 50% capacity. The same social distancing measures and mask guidance, including leaving tables at least six feet apart, will still be in effect for all of the businesses as their total capacity increases.
Updated April 30th, 2021
Libraries Open May 10th
All three city public library systems announced yesterday that they would be opening branches for in-person visits on May 10th. The New York Public Library will open 8 branches in the Manhattan, 6 on Staten Island and 12 in the Bronx (without seating areas or restrooms), limiting computer sessions to 45 minutes and browsing sessions to 30 minutes. The Brooklyn Public Library will allow hour long visits at 13 of its branches, and the Queens Public Library will open 14 branches. The Queens libraries are the only ones not to require reservations, so you better hurry and make yours, because we have a feeling they'll book up quickly. More information, including a full list of open branches, is available here.
Updated April 29th, 2021
De Blasio: NYC Will Be 100% Open by July 1st
Mayor de Blasio has big plans for the city this summer. The mayor went on the record this morning to say that he anticipated that New York would fully reopen by July 1st. He cited the city's "extraordinary" vaccination numbers in saying that, "We are ready for stores to open, for businesses to open... offices, theaters - full strength." He even clarified that he believed that concert venues and arenas could be safely reopened at 100% capacity over the summer. Of course, the decision on whether or not to reopen or increase capacity at events within the city rests squarely with Governor Cuomo and the state legislature, de Blasio said that he felt it was important to "set out the city's vision" for reopening. More information about the mayor's statements is available here.
Updated April 28th, 2021
Curfew Lifting for Bars and Restaurants, Food Requirement Likely to be Removed
Starting next month, bars and restaurants will no longer be forced to shut their doors at midnight. Governor Cuomo announced this morning that he would be lifting the curfew for outdoor dining beginning May 17th, with indoor dining to follow shortly behind on May 31st. NYC restaurants will also be allowed to seat patrons at the bar starting on May 3rd.
The state legislature is also meeting today, and will likely repeal the governors executive order which requires bars and restaurants to serve food along with any alcohol order. More information about the curfew and the end of "Cuomo Chips" is available here.
New Mask Guidance
The CDC has released new mask guidance, removing their requirements for outdoor masking in certain situations. The new guidance states that it is safe for vaccinated people to walk run or bike, attend small gatherings and even dine outdoors without a mask. The guidelines have not changed for any indoor events or gatherings. New York State will not remove its mandate to wear a mask whenever social distancing is impossible, although Governor Cuomo did say that it was a step towards normalcy, and wearing a mask would not be necessary when running or biking outdoors away from others. The updated guidance from the CDC is outlined in the image below.
Updated April 27th, 2021
Capacity Increases for Stadiums, Offices and More
Governor Cuomo announced this morning that outdoor arenas, casinos, offices and more would be allowed to increase their capacity next month. Stadiums, which are currently held at 20% capacity, will be able to expand to 33% capacity on May 19th. Offices will increase from 50% to 75% capacity, and casinos will double their capacity from 25% to 50% on May 15th. Also on May 15th, gyms outside the city will be allowed to expand from 33% to 50% capacity, but gyms within the five boroughs will not be allowed to increase capacity with the rest of the state. The governor did not provide any reasoning for the hold on city gyms. Learn more here.
Updated April 23rd, 2021
Walk Up Shots Available at All City Run Vaccination Sites
Mayor de Blasio announced this morning that all city-run vaccination sites would be open for walk-ins, starting immediately. After the success of a trial program allowing any New Yorker over the age of 50 to receive a shot without an appointment, the mayor has expanded order to allow anyone over the age of 16 to get their jab without reserving a time slot in advance. Hizzoner cited manageable lines and widespread availability in his announcement, and even called for the federally run vaccination sites to follow suit.
State run sites are also offer vaccines without appointments, but only to those aged 60 and up, and appointments are available at federally run sites. You can find a city run location near you here.
Updated April 20th, 2021
New Vax Site at Museum of Natural History
The city's newest vaccine site already has good bones. The Museum of Natural History will begin distributing vaccinations on Friday, April 23rd, directly under the blue whale. The whale has even been decked out with a new addition - a bandaid on it's flipper as it prepares to welcome New Yorkers to receive their shots. The museum will focus on local and public housing residents, as well as cultural workers. More information is available here.
Updated April 19th, 2021
Museums, Zoos, Movies Expand Capacity
Governor Cuomo announced this morning that movie theaters, museums and zoos across the state will be allowed to expand their capacity next week. Starting on Monday, April 26th museums and zoos will be able to operate at 50% capacity, up from their current restriction of 25% capacity. Movie theaters, also currently held at 25% capacity, will be allowed to open to 33% capacity.
The governor also mentioned that he is in talks with the operators of several indoor arenas, and hopes to expand their capacity for sporting events from the current 10% up to 25% "by the playoffs," although no official order has yet been given for the expansion.
Updated April 16th, 2021
The Mermaid Parade Swims Again
The Coney Island Mermaid Parade will ride again in 2021. Although the art parade will not go on as scheduled on the original date of June 19th, organizers are working to ensure that all of the revelry will return to Mermaid Avenue later this summer. While the parade typically draws as many as 800,000 people, they're working with the city determine a safe way to hold the event amidst changing gathering protocols. As long-time parade leader and founder of Coney Island USA Dick Zigun told the Brooklyn Paper, "a teeny parade of 400,000 people would be ideal." Zigun is expected to make an announcement about rescheduled dates and more at a virtual benefit held on April 29th.
Updated April 15th, 2021
Curfew Extended for Bars & Restaurants
On Monday, April 19th, bars and restaurants across the state will be allowed to remain open until midnight, and catered events will be allowed to run until 1am, up from previous curfews of 11pm and 12am, respectively. While restaurants in the city are advocating for a complete removal of the curfew so that they can get back to the historically late 4am closing time, Mayor de Blasio pleaded for patience as he stated, "When it comes to fighting COVID, we have to be really smart about how we relax restrictions. We still are dealing with a really huge challenge with the variants. We're concerned about making sure we have enough supply of vaccine."
Updated April 14th, 2021
The GREEN Coming to Lincoln Center
On May 10th, the plaza at Lincoln Center will become a public refuge in the form of The GREEN, a grassy leisure space complete with a snack bar, lounge areas and more. The space was designed by noted set designer (and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient) Mimi Lien, and will be made using a recyclable, bio-based material from SYNLawn New York. The GREEN will also serve as a venue for a variety of performances as part of Lincoln Center's Restart Stages initiative. More information about the space and all of the great performances to come is available here.
New York Temporarily Suspends Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Distribution
New York has temporarily halted all distribution of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in response to reports that the single-dose vaccine may be linked to potentially dangerous blood clotting. The suspension has been taken out of an abundance of caution, as the clots have only been reported in six people so far. Over 6.8 million people have received the vaccine across the country. President Biden advocated the temporary suspension for all states, hoping that pausing distribution would show Americans who may be dubious about the safety of the vaccine that the nation's health officials are taking any health concerns very seriously. Vaccination sites like the Javits Center have promised that anyone who already has an appointment to receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine can receive another vaccine in its place.
Updated April 8th 2021
New Summer Proposal: Dumpster Pools
City comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer has a new proposal to keep city kids cool this summer: bring in pop-up pools. The pools, built from retrofitted dumpsters, would be spread across several Open Streets, and offer free swimming lessons and sunscreen. Stringer's "Summer in the City" proposal also calls for expanding bike lanes and parking at city beaches. More information is available here.
Updated April 7th, 2021
Vaccine Bus Hits the Streets
In order to increase access to vulnerable communities, the city has unveiled a new mobile vaccination center: a giant bus, which will distribute hundreds of doses a day. The bus hit the street today in Sunset Park, with the goal of vaccinating as many restaurant and delivery workers as possible. The bus is part of a larger campaign by the city to increase access to the vaccine among marginalized and undocumented New Yorkers, many of whom do not have reliable access to the internet to make reservations at existing vaccination sites. More information is available here.
City Beaches to Open Memorial Day Weekend
Mayor de Blasio announced this morning that all of the city's beaches would open on schedule on Memorial Day Weekend. The same social distancing guidelines will remain in place from last summer, although hizzonner did hint at the possibility of relaxing restrictions as more New Yorkers are vaccinated and case numbers begin to drop.
Tavern On the Green Reopens April 29th
After over 13 months of closure, Tavern on the Green plans to reopen later this month. The Central Park landmark will open indoors and out at a reduced capacity, and will even be unveiling a brand new takeout window, letting parkgoers pick up their food and drinks at their own picnic at the Sheep Meadow (or anywhere else in the park for that matter).
Updated April 6th, 2021
Coney Island Amusement Parks Reopen Friday
On Friday, both Luna Park and Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park on Coney Island will welcome visitors back for the first time in over 18 months. Both parks will honor to frontline workers, with the first ride on the Cyclone reserved exclusively for local healthcare workers and 500 tickets to Luna Park and 100 rides on the Wonder Wheel free on opening day to other frontline heroes. Of course, both parks will have social distancing guidelines in place including mask wearing and reduced capacity. More information about opening day festivities is available here.
Updated April 5th, 2021
CDC Updates Travel Guidelines, NY Removes Quarantine Requirement
Last week, the CDC updated their recommendations for travelers. The new guidance states that fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get or spread COVID, and thus can safely travel within the country without the need to get tested or quarantine (unless it is required by their destination). While they still recommend following existing guidance for social distancing including wearing a mask and maintaining a minimum of six feet from others, the update does make travel more feasible for anyone who's received the vaccine. New York has also ended its mandatory two-week quarantine for domestic travelers arriving in the state as of Thursday, April 1st, removing another hurdle for those seeking to travel.
Lincoln Center Accelerates Timeline for Geffen Hall Reconstruction
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the New York Philharmonic announced today that they would accelerate the reconstruction of David Geffen Hall. The project promises to provide more than $600 million in construction contracts and create an estimated 6,000 jobs, with a large emphasis on contracting Women- and Minority-owned businesses and employing workers from underrepresented communities while they work to complete the project by Fall 2022. The newly imagined hall will reduce capacity by 500 while improving acoustics and sight lines, adding new public spaces and turning the entire facade of the building into a "canvas" to exhibit public artwork. You can learn more about the project via Lincoln Center's press release here.
Updated April 2nd, 2021
East Village Icon the Pyramid Club Permanently Closed
After over 40 years serving up some of the best punk and drag shows in the city, the Pyramid Club announced yesterday that they were calling it quits. The venue last opened their doors on March 7th, 2020, and has made the difficult decision not to reopen. The "safe haven for freaks, geeks, weirdos, queers, and dreamers" first opened on Avenue A in 1979, and hosted some of the first NYC shows from Nirvana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, RuPaul and more. Pour one out for one of the last vestiges of the East Village of yore, but as the club's owners said in their statement yesterday, "The Pyramid Spirit Lives On!! We’ve done all we can, it’s time to turn the page and carry on."
Updated March 29th, 2021
New Yorkers 30+ Eligible Tomorrow, 16+ Next Week
Governor Cuomo announced this afternoon that starting tomorrow, March 30th, all New Yorkers age 30 and over will be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. The governor also plans to open up access to everyone over the age of 16 starting next Tuesday, April 6th. The expansion of eligibility puts New York almost a full month ahead of President Biden's goal to have universal eligibility for vaccination in all 50 states by May 1st. Find a vaccine appointment here.
New Tracking App Holds Promise for Concerts
Over the weekend, the state unveiled a new vaccine and testing tracking platform. The Excelsior Pass app, developed in partnership with IBM, will connect with vaccine and testing sites to certify New Yorkers have either received the vaccine or a negative test within a given window. The app will generate a unique QR code, which venues and event producers can scan at the door to help with safety concerns and allow them to increase their total capacity. The app is also available in an online format for those who do not own a smartphone. More information is available here.
Tribeca Film Fest Returns With In-Person Screenings
This summer, the Tribeca Film Fest will return with in-person screenings an events. The 20th anniversary of the festival will take place from June 9th though 20th with screenings at Brookfield Place, Pier 57, the MetroTech Commons, Hudson Yards and more. According to co-founder Robert De Niro, “As New York emerges from the shadow of COVID-19, it seems just right to bring people together again in-person for our 20th anniversary festival." You can learn more about the festival's grand return here.
Updated March 26th, 2021
Mayor de Blasio Announces Plans to Bring Back Broadway & New Guidelines for "Open Streets" 2021
At a press conference yesterday, Mayor de Blasio announced a series of plans to help get Broadway, and theatre throughout the city, get back on track. NYC will set up a dedicated vaccine site for Broadway and theatre industry workers, a mobile vaccination unit for Off-Broadway theatre workers, and pop-up testing sites near theatres for audiences. The city's aim is to open Broadway this fall, which would still require state approval. Get more details here.
During the same press conference, the mayor revealed new guidelines for the return of this year's "Open Streets" program, which promises to be an exciting return to (or for many of us, first dip in) the outdoor dining oasis. The guidelines include more support for communities managing their local open streets, better signage, metal barriers, and more. Applications for the open streets program opened yesterday. The program will be 12 hours a day, one of the most contentious issues at stake in resuming the program, as 24/7 open streets would have enabled the creation of "permanent" plazas in areas closed to traffic that many hoped for.
Updated March 22nd, 2021
New Yorkers Over 50 Vax Eligible, Pharmacies Expand to Comorbidities
Starting tomorrow at 8am, all New Yorkers over the age of 50 will be eligible to make an appointment to receive their COVID vaccine. Pharmacies across the state will also expand their coverage to offer shots to anyone with a medical condition that makes them eligible to receive the vaccine. Previously, pharmacies were limited to administering doses of the vaccine to those over the age of 60, teachers and childcare workers. Find a vaccine appointment here.
High Schools Reopen, Fitness Classes Resume
Today, recent changes to the state's COVID restrictions went into effect. City high schools are now allowed to reopen for in-person restriction, although the frequency with which students will be in person for classes and how many students will be allowed in each classroom varies by school. Indoor fitness classes are also allowed to resume today, although at a reduced capacity, so those SoulCycle classes may be in higher demand than ever.
Updated March 19th, 2021
Baseball Games Increase to 20% Capacity
Starting April 1st, baseball stadiums in New York will be able to increase their capacity to 20%, thanks to a new order from Governor Cuomo. Now, all outdoor arenas will be able to double their capacity for sporting events and concerts. The timing coincides perfectly with the Yankees' home opener, also on April 1st, as they face off against the Blue Jays in front of over 10,000 fans. The Mets will have to wait until April 8th, when they play their first home game against the Nationals. Despite the increased capacity, Yankee Stadium will still function as a COVID vaccination site throughout the season. More information is available here.
Curfew Lifted for Bowling Alleys and Casinos, But Not Restaurants and Bars
On April 5th, bowling alleys, casinos, gyms and pool halls will be able to drop their 11pm curfew. Catered events will also have their curfew extended from 11pm to midnight. For now, the curfew will remain in effect for restaurants and bars, although the governor did state that the state was currently looking into updating their recommendation, but will not likely have an announcement until early April. More information is available here.
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Applications Open April 8th
As part of the massive COVID relief bill, the federal government is providing more than$16 billion in relief to hard hit industries. Of course, concert halls and venues fall easily into that umbrella. The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant will provide funds directly to venues who have been forced to remain closed since the onset of the pandemic. Applications for the grant will open on April 8th, and interested parties can sign up here to be notified when the application becomes available.
Updated March 18th, 2021
Indoor Fitness Classes to Resume Monday
Governor Cuomo announced that gyms fitness studios would be allowed to resume group classes indoors starting on Monday, March 22nd. The announcement clears the way for yoga, spin, barre, aerobics and other group fitness classes to operate at 33% capacity with masks mandatory and other social distancing guidelines in place. Mayor de Blasio and several health officials have spoken out against the decision, saying that gyms present unique risks to the spread of the virus because people will be breathing more heavily and sweat may reduce the efficacy of face coverings. More information is available here.
Updated March 17th, 2021
Shakespeare in the Park Returns for 2021 Season
After sitting empty all last year, the Delacorte Theater is preparing to welcome back Shakespeare in the Park this summer. The Public Theater, who run the program, announced that they would return this summer, with a modern adaptation of The Merry Wives of Windsor set in South Harlem. In order to comply with social distancing guidelines, the free production will be limited to 500 attendees per night. The season will run from July 5th to August 29th. More information is available here.
COVID Vaccine Eligibility Expanded, New Mass-Vax Sites Added
Starting today, nearly all New Yorkers who work in essential, public facing positions are eligible for vaccination, bringing the total number of vaccine-eligible New Yorkers over 12 million. While pharmacies are reserving doses for teachers and people over the age of 60, every other site will offer the vaccine to anyone who is currently eligible. At this point, the next expansion of eligibility has not been determined. The state has also added 10 new mass vaccination sites in order to administer the doses, including 3 in Long Island, all of which will open on Friday. More information about the new sites and vaccine eligibility is available here.
Updated March 12th, 2021
Quarantine Restrictions Lifted for Domestic Travelers
Starting on April 1st, domestic travelers arriving in New York state will no longer be required to quarantine upon arrival. International travelers will still need to follow quarantine protocols, and domestic travelers will still be encouraged to do the same, even though it will no longer be mandatory. Mayor de Blasio immediately voiced his disagreement with Governor Cuomo's decision, arguing that he should have been consulted in the decision making process, and that it was too early to begin removing the need to quarantine.
Updated March 11th, 2021
Indoor Dining Expands to 50% Capacity
Yesterday, Governors Andrew Cuomo and Phil Murphy announced that restaurants in New York City and New Jersey would be allowed to expand their indoor dining capacity to 50% starting Friday, March 19th. Restaurants in the city are currently limited to 35% of their total capacity, while elsewhere in the state they are allowed to operate at 50% capacity. Governor Cuomo previously announced that restaurants in New York state outside of the five boroughs would be allowed to expand their capacity to 75%, also starting on the 19th. More information about the capacity increases is available here.
Congress Passes $1.9 Trillion Aid Bill
Congress' massive $1.9 trillion stimulus package is officially heading to the White House to receive President Biden's signature after a largely party-line vote in the House of Representatives yesterday. The package includes $1,400 in direct payments to many Americans, an extension of federal unemployment aid, relief funds for state and local governments and small businesses, and billions in funds to expand vaccination efforts and more. Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the bill, "the most consequential legislation that many of us will ever be a party to."
President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law later today. He will deliver his first primetime address to the American people tonight. More information on the bill is available here.
Updated March 10th, 2021
Loeb Boathouse to Reopen
As warm weather drives New Yorkers by the thousand to Central Park, they'll soon be able to welcome a city institution back into the fold. The Loeb Boathouse, which has been closed since the first wave of lockdowns came in last year, will officially reopen on March 29th. The Boathouse will welcome park-goers for both indoor and outdoor dining along the East shore of the Lake, and yes, the rowboats will be back along with the restaurant.
Updated March 9th, 2021
CDC Updates Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals
Now more than three months into international vaccination efforts, initial studies show that vaccines succeed at preventing the spread of COVID by as much as 90%. With that in mind, the CDC has issued new guidance for Americans who are fully vaccinated, namely two weeks after receiving the second dose of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The new guidelines state that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks or enforce physical distance among other vaccinated people OR among low-risk, unvaccinated individuals in household gatherings. Fully vaccinated people can also refrain from quarantining or testing following a known exposure, assuming they do not display any symptoms.
Outside of small private gatherings, the guidelines have not changed. Vaccinated people should still wear a face covering and maintain social distance in public places, avoid medium- and large-sized gatherings, avoid unnecessary travel and get tested if they experience symptoms of COVID. You can see the CDC's full guideline update here.
Updated March 3rd, 2021
Venues Allowed to Reopen, Gathering Limits Expanded
Beginning March 22nd, New Yorkers will be allowed to hold larger gatherings. The current guidelines limit the number of attendees at a residential gathering to 10, and the number of attendees at a "social gathering" to 50. New rules will increase the capacity to 25 people at an outdoor residential gathering, but the capacity will remain the same for an indoor residential gathering. For social gatherings, the limit will be increased to 100 people indoors and 200 outdoors.
Public gatherings will also see a return on April 2nd. Events, arts and entertainment venues will be allowed to open at 33% capacity, with a maximum capacity of 100 people indoors and 200 outdoors, regardless of the size of the venue. If the venue requires a negative test to attend the event, the capacity will be increased to a limit of 150 people indoors and 500 outdoors. Social distancing and masks will still be required by all attendees. More information is available in Governor Cuomo's press conference here.
Cuomo to be Stripped of Emergency Powers
State lawmakers reached a deal yesterday to strip Governor Cuomo of the emergency powers he was granted at the onset of the pandemic. The governor's executive orders that have already been issued to remain in place, while removing many of the temporary powers to expire starting April 30th. While the governor will be allowed to extend or modify existing orders, he will be required to provide notice about any changes and give the public the opportunity to comment. The deal also calls for the creation of a centralized hub that will list all of the restrictions and regulations affecting businesses, which will be updated every 30 days to include commentary from state and local government officials. According to Queens State Senator John Liu, the deal is about restoring the balance of power in Albany, not about punishing the governor for the multiple scandals he is currently facing. More information is available here.
Biden Promises Vaccines for All Americans By End of May
Yesterday, President Biden promised that vaccines would be available for all Americans by the end of May. While it may take longer for the vaccines to make their way into people's arms, he assured the public that the increasing pace of vaccine manufacturing would mean that shots would be available for all 300+ million Americans two months ahead of initial projections. The president did, however, urge caution throughout his announcement, saying that the virus still remains a deadly threat, and it is too early to make a full return to normal business or cast off social distancing guidelines.
Updated March 2nd, 2021
Open Culture Permits Will Allow Venues to Host Ticketed Street Shows
Open Culture Permit applications are now open! The new permit type available from the Mayor’s Street Activity Permit Office allows qualified businesses and individuals to host ticketed performances. Venues and Cultural Institutions will have the chance to secure permits and host socially distant events in 100+ street locations city-wide. Consideration is first come, first serve so APPLY NOW and revisit this later. The program runs through October 2021, applications cost $20, must be submitted at least 15 days ahead of the event (keeping in mind the 5-day processing window), and can be done for up to 4 events per location per month. Read more here.
Updated March 1st, 2021
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Approved For Use, Distribution Begins This Week
Over the weekend, the FDA approved Johnson & Johnson's request for emergency use authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine. The company currently has 4 million doses of the vaccine available and has already begun shipping their supply across the nation. The vaccine requires only a single dose, unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines which are currently available. While the other two vaccines have been demonstrated to be over 95% effective, the J&J vaccine has an overall efficacy rate of 66%. However, the vaccine has shown a 100% reduction in hospitalizations, ICU admissions and death, and Dr. Fauci has urged Americans not to think of the vaccine as inferior in any way and to take whichever vaccine becomes available to them as soon as possible. New York City is set to receive over 70,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in the first shipment, and will begin administering the shots as soon as tomorrow.
Updated February 25th, 2021
Lincoln Center Announces Restart Stages Program
Lincoln Center has announced a new program, Restart Stages, which will bring 10 new outdoor performance and rehearsal spaces to the city. The venues will include a cabaret-style stage on Hearst Plaza, venues for rehearsals, spaces for public school graduations, and an outdoor reading room created in partnership with the New York Public Library. The program will kick off on World Health Day, April 7th, with special performances for healthcare workers. More information is available via a press release from Lincoln Center here.
Noguchi Museum to Reopen
The Noguchi Museum, one of the city's best hidden gems, is reopening with timed reservations at 10% occupancy starting March 10th. Filled with the works of famed Japanese sculptor Isamu Noguchi, the serene collection and garden are a great escape within the city. You can book a reservation and see more details about the museum's health & safety policy here.
Updated February 23rd, 2021
Movie Theaters Reopen March 5th
Next Friday, movie theaters across the city will be allowed to open at 25% capacity, or a maximum of 50 attendees. Governor Cuomo made the announcement at a press conference yesterday, as he continues to push to reopen New York businesses that have been shuttered for almost a year. Attendees at theaters will be required to wear a mask, although it's not clear how that will pair with a large popcorn or a gallon of soda.
Updated February 22nd, 2021
Indoor Dining Capacity Increases Friday
Starting this Friday, restaurants in the city will be allowed to seat up to 35% of their maximum capacity for indoor dining, up from the current 25% limit. Governor Cuomo made the announcement on Friday, citing a declining infection rate across the city even after reopening indoor dining last week. Restaurants in New Jersey are also operating at 35% capacity, while in most of New York State restaurants are allowed to operate at 50% capacity.
New Vaccination Mega Sites Open in Brooklyn and Queens
New York will bring the two largest vaccination sites in the state to Brooklyn and Queens. New centers at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and York College in Queens will be able to administer as many as 3,000 shots per day once they are fully operational. The centers will both open on Wednesday, and will handle appointments through the state's vaccination portal system, not the city's independent system. Both sites will serve vaccine eligible people who live in the surrounding area from the site in order to ease the registration burden and make it easier for locals to secure their vaccination. The state is also working to provide a robust bussing system to make the sites more accessible. More information is available here.
Ice Rinks To Remain Open
After New York City terminated its contract with the Trump Organization, Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink were set to close this weekend as the previous operators began to clear out their holdings from the ice rinks. In the eleventh hour, Mayor de Blasio decided to renegotiate the end of the contract with the organization in order to keep the rinks open for a few more weeks until the end of the season. More information is available here.
Updated February 19th, 2021
Revel Introduces E-Bike Subscription Program
Revel, the sometimes maligned company behind the bright blue mopeds across the city is branching out into a new market: e-bikes. Their new rental program will allow New Yorkers in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan to lease e-bikes for $99 a month. Unlike Citi Bike, which does offer pedal assist bikes across the city for less than $150 a year, the Revel program will allow people to keep their own bike instead of picking them up and dropping them off at stations. More information is available here.
Scooter Sharing Coming to the Bronx
The Department of Transportation revealed yesterday that a pilot program to bring electric scooters to New York would launch in the Bronx this spring. While e-scooter programs have become widespread across the country, they have been shut out of the city until now. The pilot will see 2-3 thousand scooters available in the northeast Bronx, around Eastchester and Co-Op City. The DOT will analyze the success and safety of the program before allowing expansion into the other boroughs. You can learn more about the program here.
Updated February 18th, 2021
MTA: No Service Cuts Through 2022
At a board meeting this morning, MTA Chairman Pat Boyd said that thanks to $8 billion federal aid and more than $3 billion in loans, the agency would not have to make the "doomsday" cuts they had been anticipating. Before securing the funding, the MTA's plans called for an almost 50% reduction in service and the termination of over 9,000 transit workers. Boyd stated that the funding will allow the MTA to operate without substantial cuts through the end of 2022, and even resume work on its massive modernization plan this year. Future cuts are still possible looking ahead as far as 2023, but those will largely be dependent on ridership over the next two years as the city recovers from the pandemic. More information is available here.
Updated February 17th, 2021
Amusement Parks, Summer Camps Slated for Reopening
On April 9th, outdoor amusement parks across the state will be allowed to reopen. Governor Cuomo announced this morning that all of the state's outdoor amusement parks will be able to open this spring at 33% capacity, provided they maintain strict safety protocols like mask wearing and social distance. Any ride that will make social distancing impossible must remain closed. The governor also shared that summer camps can plan on welcoming campers back in June as long as they have testing systems in place, although he did not provide an exact date. "Indoor family entertainment centers" will also be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity starting on March 26th, although the governor did not provide any clarity on what types of businesses qualify.
Updated February 16th, 2021
Subway Hours Extended Starting February 22nd
Governor Cuomo and MTA officials announced yesterday that subway hours would be extended to 22 hours a day starting on February 22nd. In May, the subway stopped running 24 in order to give MTA staff time to clean and sanitize train cars overnight from 1am to 5am. Now, that cleaning window will be reduced from four to two hours a night, meaning that trains will only be closed from 1am to 4am. The MTA has promised that the shorter window will not result in a decline in the cleaning service. More information is available here.
Updated February 15th, 2021
People With Comorbidities Now Eligible for Vaccine
Starting today, over 3 million New Yorkers with preexisting conditions that make them more susceptible to harm from the coronavirus are eligible to receive the vaccine. The list of comorbidities includes cancer, heart conditions, weakened immune systems, diabetes, obesity pregnancy and more. Anyone with one of these conditions must obtain a doctors letter or other medical information showing that they have an eligible condition, and can make an appointment to receive the vaccine through the normal channels. More information is available here.
Curfews Extended for Bars, Restaurants, Gyms and More
This weekend, Governor Cuomo signed an executive order extending the curfews on gyms, casinos, billiards halls and more from 10pm to 11pm. The governor had previously issued a similar order allowing bars and restaurants to operate until 11pm, citing declining hospitalization and positivity rates as the impetus for the extension. More information about the order is available through the state's website here.
Updated February 11th, 2021
Large Stadiums And Arenas Open February 23rd
Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that the state will allow any large stadium or arena to open starting February 23rd, provided they meet strict safety protocols. Citing the success of the Buffalo Bills playoff game, which allowed 7,000 attendees into the arena after testing, the governor gave the green light for sporting events and concerts to go on throughout the state. Venues with a capacity of over 10,000 will be allowed to host events at 10% capacity after receiving approval from the state Department of Health. All attendees must have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the event, and there must be assigned seating, face coverings, temperature checks and other safety protocols in place. The Brooklyn Nets will be the first team to host a game, as they face off against the Sacramento Kings at the Barclays Center on February 23rd.
Updated February 9th, 2021
Pop-Up Performances Coming February 20th
Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced a new program called "NY PopsUp," a series of 300 free, pop up performances set to run between February 20th and Labor Day. The series will feature stars like Hugh Jackman, Mandy Patinkin and Chris Rock, performing in pubic parks, subway platforms, parking lots and more. In order to avoid massive crowds, many of the performances will not be announced in advance, but you can follow @NYPopsUp on Twitter for details on upcoming performances. In his press conference, the governor also indicated that he is working towards a plan to reopen venues and theaters, saying, "There are venues that we want to start to reopening with testing and capacity limitations... Theaters, arenas, why can't you do it with Broadway? You can, you can."
Not to be outdone, Mayor de Blasio also provided more information about the city's "Open Culture" program, which will allow venues and artists to hold outdoor performances in public streets. Starting on March 1st, venues and sponsors can begin applying for permits. He also unveiled "Curtains Up NYC," a program built to assist struggling performance venues to connect with federal grants.
Updated February 4th, 2021
Village Cigars Up For Sale
The wedge shaped Village Cigars store above the Christopher St 1 station has long been one of the most iconic storefronts in the city. Now, decreased revenue brought on by the pandemic has pushed owner Jonathan Posner to put the landmark building up for sale. The parcel of land also includes one of the oddest (and smallest) pieces of property in the city, the Hess spite triangle, a roughly two-square-foot mosaic installed in 1922 by the Hess Estate (no relation to the gas company) after they declined the city's request to donate the property.
Yankee Stadium Becomes Vax Site
Tomorrow, Yankee Stadium will open its doors for the first time in over a year as it becomes the latest NYC vaccination mega site. The South Bronx Stadium will administer vaccines 24 hours a day, and will be operated in partnership between the city and the SOMOS Healthcare Network, which largely serves Spanish-speaking neighborhoods.
Updated February 3rd, 2021
Restaurant Workers, Cab Drivers Now Eligible for Vaccine
Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced that New York State would be sending an additional 20% more vaccine doses to local governments, thanks to an increase in the number of vaccines allocated to the state by the federal government. Along with the announcement, the governor also said that he would allow local governments to make the decision about increasing vaccine eligibility requirements to include members of Group 1B, namely restaurant workers and cab drivers. In the city, Councilmember Mark D. Levine confirmed that all restaurant workers, including delivery workers who work for 3rd party apps, and all cab drivers with a TLC license would be eligible to receive the vaccine immediately.
Updated January 29th, 2021
Indoor Dining to Return in NYC, Weddings Follow Shortly
This morning, Governor Cuomo announced his plan to reopen indoor dining in the city. Starting on February 14th, provided NYC maintains its current trajectory for decreasing cases, restaurants will be allowed to offer indoor dining at 25% capacity. Based on the success of the trial testing attendees in advance at the Buffalo Bills' playoff game, the state will also allow weddings to go on starting March 15th. Weddings and receptions will be held to 50% of the capacity of the venue with a maximum of 150 attendees, all of whom will need to be tested before entering the venue.
While he mentioned that he did not want to "put any pressure on anyone," Cuomo suggested that it could be a great idea for young couples to get engaged while dining indoors on Valentine's Day and hold their wedding in March, and even toyed with the idea of creating a New York State sponsored engagement ring. You can see the governor's press conference here for more information about the plans for indoor dining, large events, and COVID-themed bling.
Updated January 28, 2021
Cuomo to Reveal New Restaurant Plan this Week
Governor Cuomo announced that after consulting with Mayor de Blasio and public health officials, he will reveal an indoor dining plan for NYC restaurants by the end of this week. Facing several lawsuits from city restaurateurs, Cuomo's plan is expected to address a return to 25% capacity, but no plans to change the current 10pm curfew for in-person dining in place. Hospitality groups welcomed the plan but would like to see a return to 50% capacity indoor dining, as several areas of the state allow restaurants to operate at half-capacity despite higher positivity rates. Learn more here.
Updated January 19, 2021
Rough Trade to Close Williamsburg Location
Citing the impact of the COVID pandemic, the owners of beloved indie record shop and music venue Rough Trade have decided to pack up shop at their Williamsburg location this spring. The store has plans to return at a new location over the summer, but at this point Bowery Presents, who booked the venue, do not have plans to join them in the relocation. Instead, Bowery will look to open a new venue to fill the niche that Rough Trade has so beautifully filled since 2013. It is unclear if the new Rough Trade location will move forward with a venue component without Bowery. More information is available in their press release here.
MTA Postpones Planned Fare Hikes
MTA Chairman Pat Foye said yesterday that the MTA has decided to postpone their scheduled fair hike for several months. With ridership down at least 70% over the course of the pandemic, the agency continues to grapple with a staggering budget deficit. They have been buoyed by last month's federal stimulus, which devoted $4.5 billion to the MTA to help make up for their deficit and prevent wide scale layoffs. After a series of public hearings, the MTA has decided that a fare hike would be untenable for many riders, and will instead look to the incoming Biden administration to offer support rather than placing the burden on bus and subway riders. More information is available here.
Updated January 15, 2021
Judge's Ruling Temporarily Reopens Indoor Dining in Orange Zones, NYC Unaffected
This week, a lawsuit filed by approximately 100 restaurants in Erie County came to a head when a State Supreme Court judge issued a preliminary injunction against the state, saying that there was not enough rationale to justify the closing of indoor dining in Orange cluster zones. While a ruling only applied to the restaurants named in the suit, state regulators acted quickly to temporarily remove the prohibition on indoor dining across the state in order to maintain consistency. A full ruling is expected next week, and will determine the fate of restaurants in Orange zones across the state for the foreseeable future.
The ruling and subsequent actions from the state do not affect the indoor dining moratorium here in the city, where the ban is separate from the governor's cluster program. NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie called the decision, "all the more outrageous and destructive to thousands of restaurants across the five boroughs, especially when our infection and hospitalization rates are lower than most counties in the State where indoor dining is permitted." More information about the state's ruling is available here.
Updated January 13, 2021
Cuomo Announces "New York Arts Revival" Program
Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced a sweeping new initiative to help bring back live performances to New York State, especially within the city. The governor stated that the arts community is a vital part of New York City in particular, and that the performers and producers in the city could not wait until the summer, much less the fall to get back to work. The newly minted New York Arts Revival is a public-private partnership initiative will bring over 100 pop-up performances by Hugh Jackman, Chris Rock, Amy Schumer and more to the city starting in February, culminating in the opening of the Little Island at Hudson River Park and the Tribeca Film Festival. The state will also look to radically increase the availability of rapid testing, allowing patrons to receive a test immediately before attending an event. More information about the program is available here.
Vaccine Eligibility Expanded, Citi Field Opens as Vax Site
Citi Field is officially open. Not for baseball, but for COVID vaccinations. The new vaccination site is the latest in a rapidly growing list of locations that New Yorkers will be able to receive the COVID vaccine, and will operate 24/7 in order to serve as many people as possible. As the site scales up, they will eventually be able to vaccinate as many as 7,000 people per day. Citi Field is soon to be joined by the Javits Center and many other locations.
Governor Cuomo also announced yesterday that the state would expand its COVID eligibility requirements to include any New Yorker aged 65 or older, bringing the total number of eligible residents in the state to over 7 million.
Updated January 12, 2021
Halloween Adventure to Close
After nearly four decades of year-round spookiness, Halloween Adventure is set to close. The Union Square mainstay has been operating at its thru-block location since 1997, but unfortunately became another victim of the pandemic as the lack of themed parties and other excuses to buy costumes and fog machines have evaporated. The store has not given its official closing date yet, but they are offering up to 75% off on all of their products. More information is available here.
Updated January 11, 2021
Fauci: Venues and Theaters Could Reopen "Sometime This Fall"
Speaking at a conference held by the Association of Performing Arts Professionals on Saturday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that theaters and venues could expect to be functioning without many restrictions by the fall. He did state that he expected masks to be part of daily life, especially at large gatherings like concerts and performances for some time. He also cited a German study that indicated that concerts at venues with adequate ventilation and low capacity posed fairly low risk of spreading the virus if proper sanitation and distance regulations were in place. If vaccine rollout goes as planned, Rocktober may be coming back in force. You can learn more about Dr. Fauci's comments here.
Vaccine Rollout Expands to Phase 1B
Starting today, vaccinations will be available to all New Yorkers who fall into Phase 1B of the state's vaccination criteria. Phase 1B includes any individual aged 75 or older, first responders (including firefighters, police, public safety officers and more), teachers and school staff, childcare workers, grocery store workers and public transit employees. Any New Yorker who falls under Phase 1B and wishes to receive a vaccination should fill out the state's COVID-19 Vaccine Form and schedule their appointment here.
Updated January 5, 2021
With OMNY Installation Complete, MetroCards Will Be Replaced
This weekend, the MTA completed installation of the OMNY card readers at every subway station in the five boroughs. The program was originally scheduled for completion in October, but was delayed due to complications arising from COVID safety protocols. Now that every station is equipped with the new payment platform, MetroCards will soon go the way of the subway token. The city has proposed a new OMNY card to replace the aging MetroCard system, although they won't begin to phase the little orange swipers until 2023.
West Third St McDonald's Closes
It's not often that we consider adding a franchise like McDonald's to our list of Permanently Closed Restaurants, but there was something to be said about Ronald's West Third Street location. A vestige of an almost forgotten, gritty, rough and tumble Village, this McDonald's was equipped with it's own armed guard, and served as a frequent late night stopover after a night at the Blue Note, Off the Wagon or the Comedy Cellar. Time Out even compiled an outpouring of love for the now vacant Mickey Dees, which you can see here.
We will continue to update you as best we can as the situation develops and keeping our listings as relevant and accurate as we can. Updates from 2020 are archived here.