CHELSEA, Manhattan — People were stepping out Friday night in New York City.
Audiences wearing masks and presenting for health checks attended socially distanced performances around New York City since the pandemic began.
New York resident and comedian Jerry Seinfeld opened a sold-out show at Gotham Comedy Club in Chelsea.
“From the moment of the laugh, you forget every problem you’ve ever had. New York is going to come back. No place feels like this place. Only New York is New York,” Seinfeld said as he left the club.
Asked by a reporter how comedy had changed in the last year, Seinfeld said “comedy doesn’t change. It’s funny or it’s not.”
Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that stages and venues in New York City could open on Friday at 33% percent capacity. However, the number of people was capped at 150 inside with proof of vaccination or negative test. The audience is limited to 200 people at outside locations.
The 11 p.m. curfew is still in effect. Many performances are already sold out.
Some owners are waiting to implement state-issued guidelines for ventilation and safety and complete in-person inspections from health inspectors.
Many independent and smaller venues continue to face challenges after being closed for a year.
For more than four years, Laura Regan has been the owner and operator of The Footlight in Ridgewood, Queens.
The popular venue, which features emerging artists, has been closed for a year. They will be leaving the location permanently.
“It’s a lot of preparation and planning. We haven’t been given the time, funding or resources,” she said.
Many owners have been waiting on federal grants and for the state to release some money. Regan estimates it could be two to five years before venues get on stable financial ground.
Broadway also has not reopened. Representatives are waiting for larger capacities to be approved as dictated by infection rates.