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Road To Reopening: New York City Arts And Entertainment Venues Allowed To Reopen At 33% Capacity Beginning April 2

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Big announcements were made Wednesday for people in New York and New Jersey tired of COVID-19 restrictions.

There is now a timetable for when people could start seeing shows again, and there has also been an easing on certain travel restrictions, CBS2's Dick Brennan reported.

New York and New Jersey have already started allowing gatherings at big arenas. Now, smaller venues will be allowed to open up. The governors in both states outlined Wednesday how things are changing for the better.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced rules for arenas with less than 10,000 people, places like Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center and comedy clubs across the city.

Beginning April 2, so-called events arts and entertainment venues can reopen at 33% capacity, with up to 100 people indoors and 200 outdoors.

With testing, those numbers can go up.

"You can go up to 150 people indoor with testing requirements for going from 100 to 150, and then for outdoor events up to 500 outdoors with testing," New York State Budget Director Robert Mujica said.

Watch Dick Brennan's report -- 

Actress Catherine Russell, who runs the Theater Center in Midtown, has been missing it all since last March.

"I love being on stage. I love selling the tickets. I love mopping the floor," Russell told CBS2's Jessica Layton.

But after COVID stole the show, now the cast, the costumes and the choreography are about to come back.

"I think people miss that, that sense of community," Russell said.

Jeffrey Omura, of the Actors' Equity National Council, says this is crucial to getting the heart of the city back up and running.

"It's more than just plays and musicals, it's jobs," he said.

It's an important step, says a spokesperson for Madison Square Garden, while pointing out the concert touring business requires more capacity, so smaller venues will benefit the most.

"We're pleased with Governor Cuomo's continued leadership and focus on reopening New York, including today's decision to allow limited attendees at smaller venues. While the majority of the concert touring business requires more capacity, we do think this is an important step in the right direction to getting music back in our venues," an MSG Entertainment spokesperson told CBS2.

"We've really been deprived of making a living," comedy club owner Dani Zoldan said.

He's looking forward to getting about 40 people laughing again safely inside Stand Up New York.

"We'll do temperature checks, and we'll probably even do COVID testing for comics," he said.

Vaccinating performers will be a priority and becomes more promising as supply goes up across the state.

People would still need to wear masks and practice social distancing.

"I want people to feel completely safe when they walk in," Russell said.


Your trip to the venue could be made easier with an Empire Pass, something that has already been tested at Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center. It's an app that, with your permission, registers all your COVID tests, making it easier for admission.

"And then you can then show proof of a negative test upon entrance to any of these events that require testing," Mujica said.

There has been opposition to the Empires Pass, with privacy groups saying that requiring vaccine passports will lead to discrimination in gaining access to variety of public spaces, ranging from work to school, and even grocery stores.

The governor also issued new travel guidance. Domestic travelers are no longer required to quarantine or test out within 90 days of full vaccination.

"International travelers, you have to continue to follow the CDC quarantine guidelines," Cuomo said.

New Jersey is also making changes.

"Aspects of life are beginning to feel a little bit more normal," Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Murphy said Wednesday that sleepaway camps can resume this summer and beginning Friday wedding receptions can go to 35% indoor capacity, up to 150 persons, and 150 persons outdoors.

"Indoor receptions must abide by our indoor dining guidance, which requires that people eat and drink while they are seated and wear face coverings at all other times," Murphy said.

Those changes take effect on Friday at 6 a.m.

CBS2's Jessica Layton contributed to this report.

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