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New York Lifts Restaurant Restrictions as Adult COVID-19 Vaccination Rates Surpass 70 Percent

Restaurants and bars no longer have to abide by social distancing regulations, according to the state

Crowds of people sit outdoors on a summer evening, filling up patio and sidewalk seating at a restaurant in Brooklyn
Diners at Petite Crevette in Brooklyn
Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday, June 15, that nearly all restrictions for business and social gatherings have been lifted in New York, effective immediately. The change in regulation comes after the state surpassed 70 percent of adult New Yorkers receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

For restaurants, that means that contact tracing measures, plastic partitions, and social distancing between tables — some of the industry’s last remaining pandemic-era operating restrictions — will no longer be required by state mandate.

Restaurants and bars could operate at 100 percent capacity as of mid-May while still maintaining social distancing measures, with the exception of spaces where customers were required to be fully vaccinated. Now, restaurants and bars no longer have to operate with social distancing restrictions regardless of whether or not customers show proof of vaccination. Some social distancing and masking requirements remain in place for other businesses, including public schools, homeless shelters, and public transit.

Similar to last month’s loosening of mask-wearing restrictions, restaurateurs can continue to apply social distancing requirements on their property if they so choose. The state still abides by current health safety guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which advises that unvaccinated people should still wear masks and practice social distancing, the New York Times reports.

While the state’s overall vaccination levels have surpassed the governor’s set goal in order to lift business restrictions, public health experts still warn that the broader figure masks racial and geographic disparities in vaccination coverage, Gothamist reports. In Manhattan, 74 percent of adult residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. That figure drops to 57 percent in the Bronx, according to city data. Across NYC, 80 percent of Asian, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander adult residents have received at least one dose; 53 percent of white adults have received at least one dose; 50 percent of Hispanic or Latino adults have received at least one dose; and 37 percent of Black adults have received at least one dose.

The city still has a ways to go to reach 70 percent vaccination for all New Yorkers. Currently, across New Yorkers of all ages, 54 percent of residents have received at least one dose, according to city data. Vaccinations are currently available to New Yorkers ages 12 and over.

  • NY Lifting Most COVID Restrictions Now That 70% Of Adults Are Partially Vaccinated [Gothamist]