New York Begins Lifting Capacity Restrictions on Restaurants & Bars

May 4, 2021 | Insight, News

Image: Elina Sazonova via Pexels

Effective May 19, most business capacities—which are currently based upon the percentage of maximum occupancy—will be removed in New York and New Jersey. Businesses will only be limited by the space available for patrons or parties of patrons to maintain the required social distance of two meters. 


At a press conference yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the expansion of New York City’s indoor dining capacity from May 10. Cuomo’s announcement is the latest in a recent series of policy changes aimed at loosening COVID restrictions for NYC businesses.

In New York beginning May 10, the outdoor social gathering limit will increase from 200 to 500 people. Beginning May 19, the indoor social gathering limit will increase from 100 to 250 people. Also, the outdoor residential gathering limit of 25 people will be removed, reverting to the social gathering limit of 500 people with space for appropriate social distancing, and the indoor residential gathering limit will increase from 10 to 50 people.

Image via WikiCommons

Last week, Cuomo announced that restaurants would be allowed to reopen for indoor service at 75% capacity starting next Friday, May 7th. And just two days prior that, the he announced that the outdoor dining curfew for NYC bars and restaurants would also be lifted on May 17th. This will be followed by lifting the curfew for indoor dining on May 31st.

“The tide is turning against COVID-19 in New York, and thanks to our increasing vaccination rates, as well as our successful, data-based regional approach, we’re able to take more steps to reopen our economy, help businesses and workers, and keep moving towards returning to normal,” Governor Cuomo said. 

Highlights of the Plan

  • New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to Lift Most Industry Capacity Restrictions Beginning May 19 Given Vaccination Progress and COVID-19 Case Decline
  • Business Capacity Limits to Be Replaced with Space Available to Maintain Six Feet of Social Distancing on May 19 in New York and New Jersey
  • Outdoor Social Gathering Limit Increases to 500 on May 10 in New York; Indoor Social Gathering Limit Increases to 250 on May 19 in New York
  • Outdoor Residential Gathering Limit is Removed and Indoor Residential Gathering Limit Increases to 50 on May 19 in New York
  • Large-Scale Indoor Venue Capacity Increases to 30% and Large-Scale Outdoor Venue Capacity Increases to 33% on May 19, Proof of Vaccination or Recent Negative Test Still Required in New York

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