Mayor Bill de Blasio wants New York City to "fully reopen by July 1", after more than a year of coronavirus restrictions and capacity limits in a metropolis that was once the global epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"We are ready to bring New York City back fully on July 1," Mr de Blasio told a news briefing, citing steady rates of vaccination. "Now we can see that light at the end of the tunnel."
He said that capacity limits could be lifted for all restaurants and bars, gyms, shops, museums, arenas and stadiums as well as other spaces. He also projected that the subway system could return to 24/7 service.
The mayor said Broadway productions may not be included in his July 1 timetable since there were extra precautions involved in reopening large indoor areas. The current projection will have Broadway potentially reopening in the autumn.
“This is going to be the summer of New York City," Mr de Blasio declared. "We are all going to get to enjoy this city again and people are going to flock here from all over the country to be a part of this amazing moment in New York City."
The mayor said he had not spoken with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo about the city's reopening.
The two leaders have long been locked in a contentious power struggle over the power to enact or lift Covid restrictions.
“It’s a statewide management system and we are managing it by the science, by the data,” Mr Cuomo said at a press briefing on Thursday. “I would like to get reopening – hopefully a reopening date before that. I don’t want to wait that long."
Indoor dining is currently allowed at 50 per cent capacity, and both arenas and stadiums have opened to limited capacity.
Neither Mr Cuomo nor Mr de Blasio mentioned if there would be requirements such as the presentation of a negative Covid-19 test results or proof of vaccination in a full reopen.
A year ago, the city was experiencing as many as 800 deaths per day, with healthcare systems overwhelmed and all non-essential businesses shut.
New York City also suffered during the winter surge in cases, though it is now seeing a steady decline.
The current seven-day average of infections has fallen to a level not seen since early November, according to the city's department of health.
New York City is recording an average of 33 daily deaths from the disease.
Mr de Blasio cited high vaccination rates as the reasoning behind his optimism.
The city's department of health says 37 per cent of the population – more than 2,455,000 people – have been fully vaccinated and 53 per cent have had at least one dose.
All city-run vaccination sites have opened up to walk-ins after overcoming the initial hurdle of the high demand for appointments.
More than 32,000 New Yorkers died from Covid-19, according to the city's department of health, and over 923,000 cases have been recorded so far.
Mr de Blasio wasn't sure rules regarding face masks would remain, although he did say:, "I'm convinced that many New Yorkers will still want to use their mask on a voluntary basis."