HELL’S KITCHEN, Manhattan — The rain has forced people to make indoor plans to start the holiday weekend, an option not available last year because of the pandemic.
Restaurants, museums and movie theaters were packed as the New York State COVID-19 numbers continue to tumble.
For New Jersey grandmother Karen Verbeke and her family, from Lake Hopatcong, a rainy start to the Memorial Day Weekend meant a celebratory birthday trip with children and grandchildren to the American Museum of Natural History.
A year ago, with COVID restrictions, that wasn’t possible, but now the crowds are back and the timed tickets were sold out until 4 p.m.
A group of tourists from Miami had to find other indoor activities until then.
“We will go to Italian restaurants, hang out, eat pasta and drink, you know,” Greg Guiteras told PIX11 News.
Others were heading to another indoor activity impossible to enjoy this same time last year, movie theaters, but now with masks on and still reduced capacity.
“There’s not much else to do in the rain,” Chandler Mynard said. “It’s definitely been a long year. Getting back to a sense of normalcy is nice,” Nathan Mynard, her husband, added.
New York’s COVID-19 numbers continue to decline, with the lowest seven-day positivity rate since the COVID crisis began at .73%. And the number of hospitalizations and patients in the ICU are at the lowest since Oct. 31.
“You got to find a place to talk to voters and Coney Island and Orchard Beach aren’t going to do it this weekend,” Brad Lander, a New York City Councilmember running for comptroller told PIX11 News.
Lander campaigned where the people were, indoors, shopping at malls like the shops at Columbus Circle, a destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike.
Dante Pettit and his wife, Tori, were visiting from Woodbury, a South Jersey town close to Philadelphia.
“We haven’t been out since last year. This is our first trip,” Pettit said. “It’s her birthday. Our anniversary. 20 years,” he proudly added.
The jazz clubs and piano bars along restaurant row were packed, many coming to hear Fleur Seule, a trio with jazz singer Allyson Briggs. Starting Monday, the midnight curfew for indoor dining will be lifted, a boon for restaurant owners and patrons.