New York to allow weddings for up to 150 – but no dancing outside your zone

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Victoria Bekiempis in New York
·3 min read
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<span>Photograph: Scott Heins/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York state will permit weddings of up to 150 people starting 15 March, with a wide range of safety rules required for ceremonies that include making guests shake a leg solely in socially distanced “dance zones”.

The list of safety requirements for weddings is extensive, but the resumption comes amid fears over a fourth surge in cases and the potential emergence of a new Covid-19 variant in New York.

New York state’s most recent positivity rate was 4.53%, with New York City’s positivity rate being 3.90%, the governor, Andrew Cuomo, said Tuesday. The seven-day state average was 3.09%.

Related: CDC chief warns of 'potential fourth surge' and urges US to keep Covid rules

For New Yorkers who nonetheless want to celebrate their marriage with a mid-pandemic party, all attendees of weddings and catered events must show proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the get-together. Or, they have to show proof of a negative rapid test within six hours of the event.

Employees and staff at event venues must undergo testing every other week. Those who have received both doses of the vaccine at least two weeks before the event do not have to undergo these state testing requirements.

Upon arrival at the wedding, guests must wear a mask unless they’re eating, drinking, or sitting at their assigned tables and six feet from others who aren’t in their “immediate party, household, or family”. More, tables have to be spaced apart at least six feet.

While cocktail hours are permitted, guests can’t snack or drink with others who aren’t in their “immediate party, household, or family”, Time Out New York explained. Musicians performing live must be separated from attendees, “especially if playing a wind instrument by at least 12 feet or a physical barrier”.

Guests are only allowed to dance with people in their groups seated at their respective tables. They can only do so in a “dance zone” – which would be located a minimum of six feet from other such zones.

Under the dance zone requirements, each one has to be at least 36 sq feet. Dancers in one zone can’t go into other zones.

Cuomo, who now faces several sexual harassment allegations, said on 22 February that the resumption of weddings was part of reopening more sectors of the state’s economy.

“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,” 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.”