New York City's continued reopening has ramped up this month with the return of stage productions, the Met Gala and in-person schooling among other live and in-person events.
Curtains are being raised at Broadway theatres following a historic shutdown, where productions completely shuttered for more than 18 months, devastating the city's entertainment and tourism industries.
“I am thrilled to see Broadway reopening,” Sarah Batchelor, a digital marketing strategist at design firm HLW, told The National.
“I have a lot of friends who work in theatre — both on stage and behind the scenes. They’ve all been hit so hard by the pandemic and the closure of their entire means of livelihood.”
Audience members are required to show proof of FDA- or WHO-approved Covid-19 vaccination and must wear face masks in theatres.
The city's public school system - the largest in the country - went fully remote in March 2020 before shifting to a hybrid model that involved both remote learning and in-person education, with windows open for ventilation and constant coronavirus testing.
“I was excited to be back in the building with all my students and seeing all the faces,” Diana De Paula, a New York City public school teacher, told The National.
“All the faces are covered with masks but nonetheless, we're back in the classroom together in real-time. You can't mute, you can't turn your camera off - it's real life again.”
The city's education department reported on Tuesday a preliminary 82.4 per cent attendance rate.
“The hope is that we can successfully maintain [education] in the building safely. I'm extremely hopeful for the future of the school year,” Ms De Paula said.
Coronavirus cases are on the decline following a small third wave in the city, spurred by the highly transmissible Delta variant.
In the city proper, 67 per cent of people have had at least one dose and 60 per cent have been fully vaccinated, the NYC Department of Health reported.
Because of high vaccination rates, most cases are among the unvaccinated and both hospital admissions and deaths remain low, the city health agency said.
Covid prevention measures are still being enforced at large events and at small businesses. Proof of at least one dose is required for entry to most indoor spaces in the city.
The Met Gala, a well-known fashion charity event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was held on Monday evening, four months after the traditional date of the first Monday in May.
Proof of full vaccination was required to attend the event as were face masks when indoors.
The MTV Video Music Awards were also held on Sunday night with an in-person audience and several performances at Barclays Centre in Brooklyn.
The 2020 VMAs were forced to go to a remote format that featured outdoor performances with limited or no audiences in New York City.
A gathering of global leaders at UN headquarters for its annual General Assembly is also taking place this month, a change from last year's remote format.
Despite the city's progress, some large offices, such as Google, have pushed reopening plans back for months due to the spread of Delta. Tourism also remains drastically lower than the record numbers seen in 2019.
“I feel positive about New York City’s reopening — especially with the mandate that indoor dining, gyms and venues must require proof of vaccination for entry,” Sarah said.
“I recently attended a few concerts — all outdoor at Pier 17 and Forest Hills Stadium — and felt a lot safer knowing that everyone in attendance had been vaccinated.”