New York venues to open at one-third capacity in April

The state’s shutdown began in March of last year.

The Blue Note in New York

Image: Wojciech Migda / Alamy

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New York state governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that New York’s arts, entertainment and event venues will be allowed to reopen, following months of COVID-19 related restrictions. However, audience capacity will be limited to 33 percent.

Additional maximum capacity limits have also been introduced, with indoor events limited to 100 people and outdoor to 200. If the venue is able to give out COVID-19 tests, then those limits are increased to 150 and 500 respectively.

Live performances have, with a few socially-distanced exceptions, not happened in the state since the lockdown began on 12 March 2020. Reaction to the lifting of restrictions has been mixed: some venues have immediately announced their plans to begin performances, while others have expressed their concerns over the implications of the reduced capacity.

Per The New York Times, Blue Note Entertainment Group’s president Steven Bensusan said in a statement that: “It doesn’t make financial sense for the Blue Note to open with only 66 seats for shows.” Similarly, Michael Swier, the owner of two New York rock clubs the Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge, said: “Given that social distancing is still part of the metric, it brings us back down to an approximate 20 percent capacity, which is untenable.”

On the other hand, Alex Poots, the artistic director and chief executive of the Shed venue said: “That communion of audience and performer, which we’ve craved for a year, we can finally realise.”

The Shed is planning to resume indoor performances for limited-capacity audiences in early April.

See governor Cuomo’s statement here.

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