New York City’s Reopening Plan: What You Need to Know

New York City is reopening exactly 100 days after the first coronavirus case was confirmed. But don’t go running onto the streets of NYC quite yet! Things are definitely not back to normal. Businesses may be open, but day-to-day operations are different. There are still worries of a second wave of this virus, which means we all have to be extra vigilant. Staying home is still the best option, and wearing a mask whenever you step outside is the new normal. 

New York state adopted a four-phase approach to reopening. While other regions are now in Phase 4, New York City is just entering Phase 3. This means that all regions of New York are in or past Phase 3, allowing restaurants and personal care businesses to reopen.

Map showing regional reopening guidelines for NY state.
Image courtesy of

Phase Three focuses on the hospitality industry, allowing restaurants and other food-service businesses to reopen for dine-in service at 50 percent capacity. Phase Four, the final phase, allows schools and low-risk activities, entertainment, and recreation businesses to reopen — all with social distancing required — but not movie theaters, shopping malls, or gyms. 

You can check to see which phase your region is in here

It may seem like a complicated process, or a frustratingly slow one, but New York’s approach has been held up as an example of how to reopen by the country’s lead epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

What about specific business types?

In each phase of the plan, restrictions are lifted on different types of businesses depending on how much interpersonal contact there is. Here’s how New York City’s Reopening Plan affects different industries:

Beauty Salons, Tattoo Shops, and Massage Studios

There’s no avoiding interpersonal contact here, but fortunately these industries are open so long as certain restrictions are followed. Nail and tanning salons, tattoo shops, and massage studios can open at 50% capacity, provided that employees wear masks and that workstations are disinfected for each new customer.

Restaurants & Dining

Governor Cuomo announced that indoor dining is suspended within the city until further notice, after states which allowed more indoor activities saw a surge in new cases. In the meantime, many restaurants have extended their patios so you can now enjoy outdoor dining. 

Outdoor recreation

In phase three, outdoor sports like basketball, soccer, tennis, and volleyball can start. Dogs can now enjoy their parks, too. 

Indoor Shopping & Entertainment

Theaters, gyms, and shopping malls aren’t reopening anytime soon, and it’s not clear when these businesses will be able to reopen in the city.

Public transportation

Subway service has returned to its normal schedule, but the subway system will still be shut down for overnight cleaning from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. for the foreseeable future.


The locks were removed from city playgrounds at the start of phase two. It’s highly encouraged to practice good hygiene at playgrounds, as the effects of COVID-19 on kids is still being researched.

Wherever you go, remember to wear a mask and practice good social distancing! Businesses have the right to deny entry and/or refuse service to individuals who do not wear masks or face-coverings. It’s only by all working together and cooperating during this difficult time that we’ll finally be able to flatten the curve and kick the COVID-19 epidemic once and for all!