May Covid Reopening Dates: Bar Seating, Libraries, 24/7 Subway, and More


Photo by Audrey Beeber David.

Gov. Cuomo announced that the state plans to lift all capacity restrictions on businesses on May 19, though that doesn’t quite mean you can sit elbow-to-elbow in a movie theater. The reopening will still have to adhere to CDC guidelines that say people need to stay 6 feet apart indoors, for instance. Masks and social distancing will still be required at events too (including requirements at many events of proof of vaccination or a negative test).

Many businesses are likely to reopen slowly to make sure that customers are comfortable — the city is still recording more than 1,000 new Covid cases a day.

Here are a few of the milestones people can expect in the coming weeks:

May 3: You can sit down at bars again, instead of having to sit at tables.

May 7: Indoor dining, hair salons, and barbershops expand to 75% capacity.

May 10: Some libraries will reopen for limited visits. None on the UWS are listed, but the Morningside Heights Library at 2900 Broadway is opening.

May 10: Outdoor social gathering limits rise to 500, as long as social distancing and other guidelines can be followed.

May 15: Gyms and fitness centers can open at 50% capacity.

May 17: Subways will once again run 24/7, ending overnight closures.

May 19: Indoor social gathering limit rises to 250, while the household gathering limit rises to 50. Outdoor gathering limits rise to 500. “In New York, any event gatherings in excess of the social gathering limits may only occur if all individuals present proof of full vaccination status or recent negative COVID-19 test result,” the governor’s office says.

Jeff Davidson, an Upper West Sider who is in Rome, wrote the following ode to May and sent it to us:

MAY – BE

Gather ye vaccines while ye May.
So this Maybe a merry month of May
And life Mayhap return to normalcy
May the Lord have mercy and Mayke
A year’s Mayhem ooze to an end .

April’s healing powers May bring us
Vibrant voyages on Mayflowers
That we May leave viral Maynia behind,
Shake our national need of the Mayo Clinic
And heed no more the Mayvens of Pandemia
And need no more to cry Mayday Mayday
Nor languish in masks and Mayors’ lockdowns.

We will again shop jubilantly at Maycys
And dance once more around the Maypole
And re-laugh to legendary lines of Elaine May
Dine with new delight and never hold the Mayo
And fervently, liltingly, monthfully wish each other
May all your Mays be Willie

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    1. STILL no libraries on the UWS?! DRAT! Double drat!

      Come on St. Agnes, wake up! The Chinese are gaining on us, Biden said so!

      Where’s your patriotism?

      • JBH says:

        Lawrence,
        I understand you made your Chinese comment in jest but it’s jokes like this that fuel anti-Asian American sentiment and eventually lead to Asian Americans being punched, kicked, hit in the head with a hammer, spit on, stabbed, even murdered. If you’d have had to spend the last 14 months fearful of being racially profiled and harassed, I doubt you’d be so blasé about making such a Trump-esque joke. I have been racially harassed and profiled on the UWS multiple times since the start of COVID.

        Your Asian American UWS neighbor

        • S says:

          Well said, JBH. A well-dressed man hurled a racist slur and expletive involving China at me and my young child in Central Park at W. 93rd over the winter. To us, Lawrence’s comment and this incident in the park are inextricably connected. Please consider your neighbors who don’t wish that kind of vitriol on you, your family or anyone else.

        • DavidS says:

          I understood that Lawrence was referring to the People’s Republic of China, not to Chinese people in general and certainly not to Americans of Chinese or Asian descent. But I do get your point and your concern.

          It’s beyond dispute that the PRC is, if not an enemy of the United States, certainly a competitor to whom no advantage should be ceded. Do you have any thoughts on a good way to verbally make that distinction such that it’s clear that no anti-Asian sentiment is intended?

        • West Seventy-Seconder says:

          I understand that many Asian-Americans currently fear for their safety and believe that politicians’ rhetoric about the origins of COVID-19 has fueled discrimination. However, I believe that it’s dangerous to conflate discussion of strategic competition with the PRC with the “othering” of Asian-Americans.

          The PRC increasingly identifies as an ethno-state and pushes the idea that all people of Chinese ancestry owe it loyalty, regardless of nationality. If the (ethnic) Chinese diaspora is to resist this, it needs to be sensitive to the distinction between the use of “the Chinese” to refer to a (putative) people and as a synecdoche for the PRC. I interpreted Lawrence’s statement (“The Chinese are gaining on us…”) as the latter. Other Asian-Americans, and Americans of all stripes, should be careful to observe this distinction as tensions between the two states rise. The PRC IS gaining on “us” in many respects (one need only take a Chinese high-speed intercity train or use a third-tier city’s mass transit system to see this).

          Avoiding the subject out of fear of causing offense due to the multiple meanings of the English phrase “the Chinese” (which may refer to an ethic group, a national group, or a sovereign state, depending on the context) strikes me as very dangerous.

          • Jude says:

            The problem is the general masses will rarely ever make these distinctions. Asian Americans being violently and frighteningly targeted/murdered don’t have the luxury of waiting for someone’s base lizard brain, in reactive mode & fueled by the blasé acceptance of these kinds of thrown-about phrases, to be calmed & rationalized by intellectual dancing-on-pins. Get some really good make up artist to make you look Asian and walk around for just 1 day. I guarantee you would never have said something so naive, not once you’ve experienced what it’s like to move through this country as an Asian-looking person these days. Try it. You won’t like it. Signed, an (mostly) Asian American

    2. Lauren says:

      I’m dying over here without St. Agnes open! I don’t need it to be fully open, but I just want to pick up my reserved books and leave.

      Loved the poem!

      • NYPL patron says:

        Riverside branch has been open for pickups for many months. Amsterdam and 65th. Quite a bit further than St Agnes for me, but good to have the option.

    3. Christina says:

      So if the subways are back up and running 24/4 with closing for cleaning purposes between 1am and 5am, we’re going to go back to filthy subways which is counter productive for keeping the virus at bay and have somewhat clean subways. That’s ridiculous! They should keep the cleaning hours in place! I’m ver happy restaurants and bars are finally open to all, I have a number of friends who are at owners and maybe my line of work( painting signs, murals, decorative painting and logos for bars and restaurants) will pick up in the near future but in regards to bars, how are they suppose to keep social distancing at 6 feet apart in a bar. That ain’t happening, I guarantee it. And does everyone have to show they’ve been vaccinated or tested to enter? I have my doubts.

      • Christina says:

        Sorry, I made a few grammatical errors texting without my first cup of coffee. Fill in the blanks. Lol

      • Jessica says:

        It’s hard to have it both ways- if they end the curfew on bars and restaurants to return to normal business, they have to reopen the subways also. Those who work in the service industry need a way to get home. I hope they’ve come up with a way to clean without closing though!

        • Christina says:

          Very true. Maybe they could do a few subway cars at a time on each train. keep open one or two cars and close off the other to clean them, then open them up and close the ones that were open and so on and so forth. At least there will be trains running for those who work late hours.

    4. Su says:

      I’m a working parent of small children. We were frequent library visitors before the pandemic, but now I purchase new/used books or try to exchange books with other families because the closest library to us is across Central Park on the east side. Many families don’t have the time/money/network to trek across Central Park and/or purchase/exchange books. When will the renovated Bloomingdale library on 100th Street open? There is a gaping hole of open libraries from W. 65th Street to W. 113th St — not even for pickup/dropoff service. Am I the only one who wants to start a petition (or fundraiser) for a library in the UWS to finally open?

    5. Steevie says:

      The Morningside branch is between 113th and 114th on Broadway. Because it is so near Columbia University it may not be too hard to get a computer for internet access at the library.

    6. Julian says:

      I don’t understand… why are we suddenly opening the floodgates when people are still dying everyday and thousands are testing positive. I thought our leaders vowed that one death from this plague was too many, and we had to follow their science.

      • Boris says:

        We’re opening because we can’t hide under the covers anymore when the risk has been reduced to a tolerable level. That’s what following the science means. But if want to wait until there are zero cases, stay in your cave.

      • cpwpj says:

        The earlier than expected openings have one root cause: the economy. NYC is making a nationwide push to get tourists to return this summer, and won’t attract them with many venues still closed. But I’m with you, Julian, in wishing our mayor and governor would return to their earlier reliance on science. Any reader of the Times sees the daily Covid map, still showing a “very high risk” designation for NYC.