New York City is aiming to fully reopen on July 1, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, nearly a year-and-a-half after COVID-19 restrictions on movie theaters, restaurants and most businesses were put in place.
“Our plan is to fully reopen New York City on July 1,” de Blasio said Thursday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “We are ready for stores to open, for businesses to open, offices, theaters — full strength.” The final decision to fully reopen, he acknowledged, is up to the state.
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However, de Blasio has been encouraged by the increasing vaccination numbers. He added that people have gotten vaccinated in “extraordinary numbers,” with 6.3 million citizens having received the COVID-19 vaccine to date. According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, 45.1% of New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 32.6% have completed their vaccine series.
For the movie theater business, the target date of July 1 is significant because it means there’s a chance that the summer blockbuster season can be salvaged to some degree. Cinemas in New York City are currently operating at 33% capacity, which hasn’t been entirely encouraging for Hollywood studios when it comes to debuting their biggest movies. A few, such as “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Mortal Kombat,” have hit the big screen (on the same day the Warner Bros. movies premiered on HBO Max). But once venues in the Big Apple can operate without having to limit the number of patrons, studios may be more likely to keep release dates for big movies like “F9,” “A Quiet Place Part II” and Marvel’s “Black Widow.”
“What we’re seeing is people have gotten vaccinated in extraordinary numbers,” de Blasio said. “We’re doing a lot of reach people at the grassroots. We know the vaccination efforts are going to grow and grow. We have to keep working hard at that.”
It’s still unclear, however, when Broadway will return. The mayor has previously said that he expects Broadway and off-Broadway shows to resume production by September. Recovery for the theater industry has been especially challenging because their venues can’t operate profitably without sold-out shows. Moreover, Broadway relies heavily on tourists to buy tickets — and the travel industry has also been impaired by the pandemic. New York City’s Broadway theaters have been closed since March 12, 2020.
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