24-Hour Subway Service Will Return in May, Capacity Restrictions to be Lifted

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will restore 24-hour subway service on May 17, after a year of the subway closing each night between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. Cuomo also said that indoor capacity restrictions for most businesses would be lifted on May 19, getting a jump on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s July 1 reopening date for New York City.

The governor and the MTA began shuttering stations and subway passenger service overnight last April at the height of the pandemic, arguing that the closure was necessary for workers to properly disinfect stations and trains. Unofficially, the nightly shutdowns also justified the removal of homeless New Yorkers from subway stations and trains. 

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“We reduced subway service more than a year ago to disinfect our trains and combat the rising tide of COVID cases, and we’re going to restore 24-hour service as New York gets back on the right track,” said Cuomo. “This expansion will help working people, businesses and families get back to normal as the city reopens and reimagines itself for a new future.”

Cuomo also announced that the indoor capacity restrictions for most businesses — including restaurants, museums, theaters, gyms and hair salons — would be lifted on May 19. 

The current 12 a.m. curfew for bars and restaurants will be lifted for outdoor seating on May 17, and for indoor dining on May 31. New York City eateries are currently allowed to operate at a 75 percent capacity for indoor dining.

The state also plans to ease rules for mass gatherings on May 19. Indoor catered events will be limited to 250 people, or up to 500 people if all of the guests can provide proof of vaccination or a recent, negative COVID-19 test. Six-foot social distancing rules remain in effect, but they can be relaxed for large gatherings if everyone involved can offer proof of vaccination or a recent negative test. 

The mayor had already announced a July 1 reopening for the city last week, after reiterating his call for Gov. Cuomo to resign amid a host of workplace sexual harassment scandals and reports that his administration had covered up coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.