Large-scale arenas & event venue capacity will increase to 25%
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He announced movie theater capacity will increase to 33% starting April 26. Also on that day, low-risk, indoor and outdoor arts and entertainment – including museums, aquariums, zoos and botanical gardens – will increase to 50% capacity.
Beginning May 19, spectator capacity will increase to 25% at large-scale arenas, and event venues, including professional and collegiate sports, and major performances. Social distancing, masks, health screenings and all other health and safety protocols remain in effect.
“Museum and zoo capacity will be raised to 50% starting next Monday. The weather is nice. We have magnificent zoos in this state. You want to get outside, you want to take the family somewhere, museums and zoos will be at 50%,” Cuomo said during his update. “Movie theater capacity will go to 33%, that will also start next Monday, April 26. Indoor large arenas, basically sports arenas, will be raised to 25%. That begins May 19.
“May 19 is not a random date, we've been speaking with the teams, we're optimistic and that would be a time when playoffs would begin.”
In a press release, Cuomo added, "New Yorkers should be encouraged by the incredible progress they have made in reducing the infection rate and getting vaccinated. While we are not yet out of the woods, thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers, we have been able to safely reopen more facets of our economy. The light at the end of the tunnel has never been brighter and we must all remain vigilant and continue to practice the behaviors we know work to stop COVID in its tracks – wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance."
Western New York remained No. 1 Sunday in percentage of new coronavirus cases, at 4.78% – 62% higher than the state average of 2.94%.
Western New York has Highest Rate of New Infections
Western New York’s progress is not as “incredible.” This region was again No. 1 in the state on Monday in percentage of new coronavirus cases. At 4.76%, Western New York is almost 60% higher than the state average of 2.8%.
In Erie County, 297 people tested positive. The number of new cases for the week ending April 17 was 3,306. While that’s 100 less than the previous week, it’s more than 100% higher than the week ending March 13.
Speaking to the media Tuesday afternoon, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said behavior is a driving factor – infected people are not isolating, those exposed to a positive individual won’t quarantine, and there’s a general lack of adherence to safety measures (wearing a mask and/or social distancing).
“It is bad behavior, I think, that is driving a lot of our infections,” Burstein said.
“No area of Erie County is doing well,” Poloncarz said. “Some areas are doing horrible. And we are working with our partners to try to alleviate that situation – and we're talking with New York state, because this is really concerning.”
He explained, “This is something that is very concerning: 27 patients died in Erie County hospitals during the past week. So, I think it's very important that we realize that we are not out of the woods yet. That, as we've been seeing, increase in cases results in an increase in hospitalization; and it eventually results in an increase in deaths; and that's what we're seeing now, is an increase in deaths. … This is the highest amount of deaths we've seen in a seven-day period in quite some time.”
To date, 38% of eligible Erie County residents (ages 16 and up) are fully vaccinated.
“There's one simple fact: The best and quickest way for our county, region, state and country to return to normal – whatever that was – is to vaccinate everyone,” Poloncarz said. “Too many people who are fighting the vaccines want us to immediately open everything. They say, ‘No, I'm not gonna take the vaccine, but we need to return to normal.’ The only way we're going to return to normal is if everyone is vaccinated.
“And if you want proof, we got some proof in this last week. Israel just eliminated its outdoor mask order now that 81% of its 16-and-older population have been fully vaccinated. …
“We know it works. In Israel, they've seen a tremendous drop in hospitalizations and new cases. And now, people are able to go out in public and not wear the masks anymore, anywhere.
“We can't do that now. As Dr. Burstein noted, 38% of our population, for the 16-and-older population, has been fully vaccinated – so we're not even halfway to where Israel is now.
“Hopefully, by the end of May, we will get there, because we believe there's enough doses now to vaccinate everyone who wants to be vaccinated, at least 18 and above. The 16- and 17-year-olds have to take the Pfizer dose, and right now we are not getting them” (as readily as the Moderna vaccination).