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New York to lift curfew for casinos, cinemas -- but not bars

March 17, 2021 GMT
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FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2014, file photo, visitors to the Resorts World Casino at the Aqueduct racetrack play electronic baccarat games, in the Queens borough of New York. New York state will lift its curfew next month for casinos Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday, March 17, 2021 as he continued relaxing coronavirus-related restrictions. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
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FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2014, file photo, visitors to the Resorts World Casino at the Aqueduct racetrack play electronic baccarat games, in the Queens borough of New York. New York state will lift its curfew next month for casinos Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday, March 17, 2021 as he continued relaxing coronavirus-related restrictions. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — New York state will lift its curfew next month for casinos, movie theaters and some other establishments, but closing time will still be at 11 p.m. for bars and restaurants, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday as he continued relaxing coronavirus-related restrictions.

Indoor fitness classes also can resume statewide on Monday at 33% capacity, an announcement that came hours after fitness studio owners rallied in New York City to complain about the closure of their businesses.

And the five “cluster” zones statewide — the lingering examples of a hotspot strategy the state adopted last fall — won’t have special restrictions anymore as of Monday.

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New York has one of the highest rates of new cases per person of any state, and cases and deaths aren’t declining as quickly as in the nation as a whole, according to federal and Johns Hopkins University data.

But as a growing number of New Yorkers get vaccinated, “we are reaching the light at the end of the tunnel,” said the Democratic governor, who on Wednesday became one of the roughly 4.7 million New Yorkers who have gotten at least one dose. About 2.4 million of the state’s more than 19 million residents are fully vaccinated, according to the state.

The 11 p.m. curfew will end April 5 for casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, billiard halls and fitness centers, Cuomo said during a conference call with reporters. But bars and eateries will still have to abide by it, and it’ll still be lights out at midnight for catered events, at least until the state takes another look at measures late next month.

Restaurants need more flexibility with their hours, too, said Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, an advocacy group.

“Restaurants are struggling to survive, so it’s disappointing because lifting the curfew is critically important to help many of them generate much-needed revenue, while allowing struggling workers to earn more money and accommodate customers,” he said in a statement.

Fitness studio owners, meanwhile, demonstrated near New York’s City Hall earlier Wednesday afternoon to press for a return to indoor classes. Gyms statewide have been allowed to open — with limited capacity and mask requirements — since late summer, but local officials had discretion to hold off indoor group instruction, and New York City did.

“We are relieved and elated that the governor has stepped up to make this decision at this time. It is certainly the fair, just and right decision and will allow more New Yorkers to return to work and to their health routines,” studio owner Amanda Freeman said in a statement after the announcement. “We are thrilled to be able to get back to business.”