New York has increased capacity once again after seeing a downward trend of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that casinos and gaming facilities will increase from 25% to 50% capacity on May 15. Spectator capacity at large-scale outdoor event venues, including professional and collegiate sports and live performing arts and entertainment, will increase from 20 to 33 percent beginning May 19 in New York.
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This increase coincides with the previously announced increase in large-scale indoor event venue capacity. Social distancing, masks, health screenings and all other state health and safety protocols remain in effect.
“We are making tremendous progress in the fight against COVID-19 — our vaccination rates are going up and the positivity and hospitalization rates are going down, so now we are going to open the valves of our economy even further,” Cuomo said in a news release on Monday. “We are increasing the capacity limits throughout several industries, including gyms outside of New York City, casinos, offices and large-scale outdoor event venues.
”This is all great news, but we are not out of the woods yet. Washing hands, wearing masks and staying socially distanced are critical tools each of us can use to slow the spread as we continue our efforts to defeat COVID once and for all.”
Cuomo also announced that gym and fitness centers outside of New York City will increase from 33% to 50% capacity and offices will increase from 50% to 75% capacity on May 15. Those businesses have proven they can safely reopen in accordance with the State's COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
What About New York Horse Racing Tracks?
One state senator would like to see horse racing tracks throughout the state included in the re-opening guidelines.
“Gov. Cuomo’s announcement on Monday that casinos and other gaming facilities will be able to double their capacity from 25% to 50% starting on May 15 means we are on our way back to a sense of normality and economic recovery,” Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., Chairman for the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, said on Tuesday. “I applaud Gov. Cuomo’s decision to follow the science and open up the state even further as our COVID-19 numbers continue to decrease and more residents are vaccinated.
“However, we cannot forget about our horse racing tracks in this decision. Racetracks are in open-air facilities and should absolutely be included in any kind of visitor expansion, just as with our baseball and other outdoor stadiums. I look forward to working with the governor and his staff on discussing further reopening standards for gaming facilities and our state's racetracks.”
Addabbo was a key proponent in getting mobile sports betting included in the recently approved budget for fiscal year 2022.
Belmont Park, home of the Belmont Stakes, in Elmont opened its spring meet on April 23 and Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack in Farmington opened its meet on April 26.