Cluster restrictions and curfews lifted, fitness classes to resume as part of new reopening push

Coronavirus

NEW YORK — From COVID cluster restrictions being lifted, to indoor fitness classes reopening, a variety of coronavirus policies in New York are officially being changed.

The announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo came on the same day that Mayor Bill de Blasio and his advisors spoke about a return to a semblance of normalcy by this summer.

The governor, in a teleconference, announced a series of changes to New York state restrictions.

“Effective this Monday, March 22nd, the final five yellow zone clusters will be lifted,” he said. “The remaining clusters are in [the] East Bronx, West Bronx, Manhattan, Newburgh, New Windsor, Queens, [in] Kew Gardens, Forest Hills.”

It was the first of three major announcements he made.   

“Indoor fitness classes will be reopening,” the governor continued. “That’s primarily in New York City.”

In addition, he said, “Starting April 5, the 11 p.m. curfew currently in place for casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, billiard halls, gyms and fitness centers will be lifted.”

They were the latest developments in a day in which the governor focused on changes involving the virus.

Earlier in the afternoon, he got his coronavirus vaccination at Mt. Neboh Baptist Church, a historic African American church in Harlem, which will serve as a vaccination pop-up site on Thursday and Friday.

“I’m going to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” the governor explained minutes before getting his shot, “because I want to make the point: take whatever vaccine you can take. They all work. They are all safe.”

By getting vaccinated in New York City, Cuomo ended up becoming part of a statistic in which Mayor

“As of this moment,” the mayor said at his morning virtual news conference,  “3,019,434 vaccinations have been given in the City of New York.”

It’s a significant number to be sure, but it may eclipse the fact that the total number of city residents who are fully vaccinated is much lower. Just over 792,000 have completed their vaccinations, according to the city’s Heath and Hospitals agency.

That number represents about 11% of all adults in the city. 

However, the numbers also mean that about 22% of adults in the city have gotten at least one dose.  
That had the mayor’s top medical advisors talking in terms of the city emerging from the pandemic. 

Dr. Dave Chokshi, the health commissioner, said in the Zoom call that the city is on pace to vaccinate an overwhelming majority of eligible residents.

“We set this bold goal of five million people getting vaccinated by June for some simple reasons,” Chokshi said.  “One, it will save lives. Two, it will save livelihoods.”

He and the mayor’s senior medical advisor, Dr. Dave Varma, said that if that goal can be met, it will be a vital part of improving people’s mental health and attitudes, by hopefully reversing the year-long closure of the city.  

“We’re at a stage where there’s a lot of possibilities for really reopening dramatically,” Varma said.

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