Increased capacity for zoos, museums, movie theaters begins Monday


ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a coronavirus briefing last week to update New Yorkers on the state’s ongoing pandemic response efforts.

The governor provided the following data:

  • 147,583 COVID-19 tests reported Sunday
  • 2.94% positivity rate statewide
  • 44 new COVID-19 deaths in New York
  • 3,783 statewide viral hospitalizations
  • 836 in ICU (lowest since December 4, 2020)
  • 521 intubated

“The numbers are stable and going down so we can start to open up more economic activity,” Gov. Cuomo said.

The governor announced the following increase on capacity restrictions:

  • Museum and zoo capacity increases to 50% beginning April 26
  • Movie theater capacity increases to 33% beginning April 26
  • Large indoor arenas increase capacity to 25% beginning May 19

“May 19 is not a random date,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We’ve been speaking with the teams and we’re optimistic and that would be a time when playoffs begin.”

As of Monday, the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets are each slated for spots in the NBA playoffs beginning next month, as well as the New York Rangers and New York Islanders in the NHL playoffs.

Locally, some of Rochester’s top attractions will be able to accommodate 50% capacity beginning next week.

Steve Dubnik is the president and CEO of the Strong National Museum of Play. He said he’s looking forward to no longer having to turn people away due to capacity issues.

“We’re very excited to hear the news, it’s something we’ve been looking forward to,” Dubnik said. “We’ve run into capacity restrictions where on some busy weekend days we’ve had to turn people away and tell them we’re at capacity and then we couldn’t let additional people in until people left. So not having to be as tight with that, not having to monitor as closely and have more people come and enjoy what we offer here is extremely important to us.”

Online reservations are still recommended to guarantee a spot and the same is true for the Seneca Park Zoo.

“We’re currently running at 33% capacity and we have a timed admission program, so the guests that are coming to the zoo we ask them to go to and register a time to come in. So now that we’re at 50% on the 26, it will just allow us to increase the number of people we’re able to welcome to the grounds,” said zoo superintendent Steve Lacy. “It’s a great opportunity for the people of Monroe County to get out, get outdoors and stretch their legs, and come out to a great facility.”

Both said they are still waiting on the full guidance from the state to be released.

The governor announced the following vaccination data for New York, as of Monday afternoon:

  • Total doses administered – 13,428,920
  • Total doses administered over past 24 hours – 131,589
  • Total doses administered over past 7 days – 1,395,107  
  • Percent of New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose – 41.7%
  • Percent of New Yorkers with completed vaccine series – 28.4% 

The governor said the pandemic presents an opportunity to make development improvements statewide, specifically for waterfront properties.

“Our goal, our ambition is to make it better than it ever has been before and were not just thinking about it and talking about it were already in the action phase,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We’re in the implementation phase. We have the most aggressive building program in modern history that is going on now. Many cities still suffer from the mistake made in the 50s and 60s, where we blocked up the waterfront. The waterfront is now the attraction and you want to reconnect the waterfront and we’re doing that in Buffalo, Rochester and Albany.”

The governor said middle class New Yorkers can expected a reduction soon for state income tax.

“We have to rebuild the middle class and the best way we can help them is through lower taxes,” Gov. Cuomo said. “In the budget we just passed, we actually reduced income taxes for the middle class. The rate goes from 6.09% to 5.97%, for those making $43,000 to $161,550 your tax rate goes down. From there to $323,000, your tax rate goes down. So middle class taxes come down as soon as I sign this bill.”

The governor once again called on federal officials to repeal SALT.

For me, in life its not what you say it’s what you do. Since January, President Biden — who’s a friend — Democratic senate, Democratic congress, no excuses, no Donald Trump no Republican senate, the congress has passed multiple bills. They all promised to repeals SALT, they have not repealed SALT and they must.

“We need results from Washington, SALT repeal means $12.3 billion to New Yorkers,” Gov. Cuomo said. “SALT repeal is so powerful it would lower the effective tax rate on New York’s highest payers by 37%. We just put a surcharge on the state income tax for the highest earners to finance our reconstruction effort in essence. Our top rate went to 10.9% from 8.8%. If they repeal SALT, the effective tax rate on the high earners goes to 6.9%, so if they repeal SALT, which I believe they must, the net effect in New York will be that we didn’t raise taxes on anyone, we lowered taxes on everyone.”

The governor said Western New York’s average positivity rate of 4.78% was the highest in the state, but added that there are no current plans to institute additional restrictions at this time.

“We looked at the comparison of other regions in the state, we’re doing some research right now on why we have certain places in the state that are extraordinary compared to other places in the state,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We’re researching that now, we’re not contemplating additional restrictions, but we do have to get it under control, otherwise we will have a problem.”

Also on Monday, the midnight curfews for bars and restaurants goes into effect and catered events will extend from midnight to 1 a.m.

According to a Siena Poll, Gov. Cuomo’s favorability, job performance and re-elect ratings all continue to head in a downward trend. At the same time, a majority of New Yorkers continue to say that he should not resign.

The governor’s favorability rating is now negative 40-52%, down from 43-45% in March and 56-39% in February. A majority of New Yorkers continue to say both that he should not resign, 51-37% (50-35% in April), and that he can effectively do his job as governor, 52-38% (48-34% last month).

Watch the full press briefing

This is a developing story. News 8 WROC will provide updates as they become available.

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