TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10/WETM) — Several industries in New York are getting the green light to reopen soon as the state’s hospitalizations and COVID-19 infection rates decrease. On Monday, the state released new COVID-19 guidance for billiard/pool halls and wedding venues.
Starting March 15, weddings and catered events can begin with COVID-19 testing of all patrons before the event. Venues are restricted to 50% capacity with no more than 150 people at the event. Attendees must sign in with contact tracing information and masks required at all times, except when seated or eating/drinking.
Ceremonial and socially-distanced dancing will be allowed under “strict guidelines.”
“They’re like, ‘Listen, if we can’t do dancing—I don’t care if we can have 300 people—we do not want to have a wedding,'” said Michael Fusco, President of Franklin Plaza.
The “no dancing” rule was something Fusco said was deal breaker for brides. “We’re losing weddings all the way until May and, you know, people are getting mad at me. And I know the governor says “blame it on me” and call him, but I’m the one who’s got to take all the phone calls,” Fusco said.
Anyone who wishes to host a larger event must notify local health departments in advance. COVID tests can be a hefty price for both the wedding party and the venue host. Without insurance, a test can go as high as $139. The cost is something a struggling Franklin Plaza hopes won’t further contribute to the loss of events at their space. The wedding hall lost about 80% of its revenue last year.
“This 150 as everybody thinks, ‘Oh, this was great. Good. Congratulations, you’re open!’ We’re not open at all. It just made it worse.”
Billiard/pool halls can reopen in New York starting March 5, with 50% capacity outside of New York City and 35% capacity in New York City. Players will be required to wear a mask at all times, except when seated and eating/drinking. Each party must be assigned a table with either physical barriers or mandatory social distancing enforced. Staff must also “rigorously clean and disinfect” any rented or shared equipment between games.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo also announced that movie theaters can reopen statewide on March 5 with the following COVID-19 guidelines:
- Venues are restricted to 25% capacity, with no more than 50 people per screen at a time.
- Masks will be required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking.
- Assigned seating will be required in all theaters.
- Social distancing between parties will be required at all times.
- Additional staffing will be required to control occupancy, traffic and seating to ensure compliance.
- Enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards must be met by theaters.
- This action brings New York City movie theaters in line with movie theaters throughout the rest of the state.
“From day one, we have said that our COVID recovery is not a choice between public health and the economy – it has to be both – and in New York we’re demonstrating how to do that safely and smartly,” Governor Cuomo said. “Thanks to the hard work and commitment of all New Yorkers, our infection rate is now the lowest we’ve seen in three months, and accordingly we will now be reopening various recreational activities across the state including billiard halls, weddings and movie theaters in New York City. As our infection rate continues to fall, and the vaccination rate continues to climb, we will keep reopening different sectors of our state’s economy and focus our efforts on building our state back better than it was before.”