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State easing capacity limits on dining, gyms, salons

State easing restrictions on NYC dining, more businesses

Cuomo said indoor dining in the five boroughs would increase from 50% to 75% capacity beginning May 7. He also announced that hair salons, barber shops and other personal care facilities across the state can be three-quarters filled by May 7, while city gyms and fitness centers will expand to 50% capacity on May 15.

"After a long and incredibly difficult fight, New York State is winning the war against COVID-19, and that means it's time to loosen some restrictions," Cuomo said in a statement.

He added that the state was easing restrictions "to put more money in the pockets of small business owners and working people in New York City, which was hit so hard by the pandemic but, I have no doubt, will come back stronger than ever."

Cuomo also announced that he will rescind an executive order establishing the microcluster zones, which placed heightened restrictions on areas that had seen high positivity rates.

Meanwhile, one in three New Yorkers are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, Cuomo said, but also noted that "the rate of people getting vaccines is slowing." Read more about Cuomo's announcements and Mayor Bill de Blasio's latest remarks about reopening the city with no restrictions whatsoever.

The number of new positives reported today: 229 in Nassau, 289 in Suffolk, 1,636 in New York City and statewide.

The graphic below shows how long it would take for 70%, and then 90% of the Long Island population to be fully vaccinated if the current pace continued.

Search a map of new cases and view charts showing the latest local trends in vaccinations, testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

Beat the crowds to these East End spots

Thanks to vaccines, relaxed travel restrictions and pent-up demand, this summer could be even bigger out east than last. Indeed, everything will be bigger, everything save the stubbornly two-lane roads you'll need to crawl along to get there.

So what’s a regular ol’ Long Islander to do? Our food critic Scott Vogel has two words: go now.

For the beauty and relative sanity of the pre-Memorial Day east, for traffic that moves slowly but at least it moves, and for your best chance at enjoying these six hot spots, along with some terrific menu options.

Vaccinated LIers are reclaiming pre-pandemic lives

In recent weeks, Wendy DeAngelis has done what she had considered unthinkable last year.

Since receiving the second dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in mid-March and waiting two weeks for the full immunity to kick in, the Port Washington resident has sat on a bench at Manorhaven Beach, walked on its sandy shore, browsed a local boutique’s artifacts and hosted a friend for lunch inside her home. And, much to her delight, she "felt totally relaxed" during her first visit to the hair salon since last May.

"That was huge," said DeAngelis, 60.

But what she described as "incredible and just wonderful" was the hug she shared with her sister.

See the various ways other vaccinated Long Islanders are gradually, and happily, reclaiming their pre-pandemic lives.

Calling a cab or an Uber? You'll have fewer choices than before

Joe Sitaram has put the brakes on driving for Uber.

The West Islip resident used to drive 20 to 25 hours a week for the ride-sharing company to supplement his income as a full-time security guard at a hospital, he said.

But the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to that, as demand for rides dried up for months starting in March last year. By the time Sitaram hit the road again in his Honda Pilot in August, he found himself competing for too few passengers with too many drivers, some of whom had been laid off from their other jobs, he said.

So, he dropped Uber again, finding the gig to not be worth the effort, said Sitaram, 36. And he's not alone.

"When you drive you want to hit like a certain average per hour after it’s all said and done. You also want to set aside money for taxes," he said.

Newsday's Tory N. Parrish explains what this means for the next time you need to a call a ride.

More to know

It was anxiety — and not a problem with the shots — that caused reactions in dozens of people at coronavirus vaccine clinics in five states, U.S. health officials have concluded.

The state English Language Arts exams administered this spring were mostly made up of questions from practice exams, leading some parents and administrators to dismiss them as a way to assess a child’s progress. The state Education Department, which unsuccessfully sought a federal waiver to suspend testing, said the pandemic had disrupted the process.

Nassau County finished 2020 with a $43.3 million budget surplus after receiving "extraordinary lifelines" that helped plug budget holes during the pandemic, the county’s financial control board reported Thursda, but Nassau still faces long-term fiscal danger.

Wages and benefits grew quickly for U.S. workers in the first three months of the year, a sign that businesses are starting to offer higher pay to fill newly-opened jobs.

News for you

LI stages making a comeback. Audiences, cast members and directors of regional and community theaters are enthusiastically applauding the gradual return of live shows. From the reading of a new musical by a local composer to an endearing Broadway comedy and a lesser-known Stephen Schwartz musical, see what's coming to a stage near you.

Masked celebs, they're just like us. Wearing a mask can make it harder to recognize someone, even if that someone is comedian Adam Sandler. In a viral TikTok, a hostess from a local IHOP restaurant shares the moment, via security camera footage, that she mistakenly told a masked Sandler he'd have to wait 30 minutes for table.

The air show gets another act. After about a decade away, this aerobatic performer is hoping to inspire and thrill when he returns to the air show at Jones Beach State Park on Memorial Day weekend.

Your spring-cleaning list. When it's time to spring-clean, we may think we have to tackle every single item on the to-do list right away, but actually, there are some tasks better suited for fall. To help you prioritize, we've compiled this list.

Plus, what are you watching this weekend? Although we're venturing outside more, who doesn't appreciate some time at home, with some new shows to watch. Netflix has a new (but some somehow familiar) horror movie starring Amanda Seyfried. And Michael B. Jordan turns a supporting role into a lead in "Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse" on Amazon Prime. Or for drive-in movie fans, check out our updated list of films playing near you.

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Commentary

Honoring our pandemic heroes. The Newsday Editorial Board writes: We’re still counting the ways New York’s essential workers sacrificed and suffered through the pandemic: the long hours, the threat of illness, the uncertainty on the job even as others could stay home.

We know some of the toll, the thousands of New York hospital staff, grocery workers, first responders, and in-person laborers who were infected during the pandemic. COVID-19 took the life of 161 Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers. The count of just the New York State Nurses Association nurses who died of COVID-19 is at least 38. They are among thousands of front line workers across the country who lost their lives to this scourge.

A memorial and monument to essential workers honors them and what they gave to society, taking risks and making sacrifices to protect us all. The physical monument proposed in April by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is a good first step. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s idea for a ticker-tape parade honoring health care workers and first responders along the Canyon of Heroes — when it’s safe to gather — also is apt.

But essential workers, like military veterans, should get more than symbolic thank-yous for their service. Keep reading

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