Museums and other cultural institutions will be allowed to open in New York City starting on Aug. 24, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday, following five months of a pandemic shutdown that has resulted in substantial layoffs and financial crises for many of these organizations.
The announcement came as the state has seen less than 1 percent of all coronavirus tests return positive for seven straight days, Mr. Cuomo said in a news conference. Mr. Cuomo surprised administrators by announcing last month that museums would not be allowed to open in Phase 4, which started on July 20.
The plans to lift the lockdown on cultural institutions come with some significant restrictions on the reintroduction of visitors. Institutions will be required to keep the buildings at 25 percent occupancy and to use a timed ticketing system, which would allow museums to carefully regulate how many people are entering at once.
The state also will require museums to control the flow of traffic through their buildings, and face coverings will be compulsory.
For months, museum officials have been making their case to the Cuomo administration that their institutions are able to provide a safe experience for visitors.
“I’m walking on air!” Adam D. Weinberg, the director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, said after the announcement. “We’ve been waiting for weeks with bated breath.”
The Whitney plans to open on Sept. 3, though members would be able to go from Aug. 27 through Aug. 31. Mr. Weinberg said that visitors will all have their temperatures taken at the start of their visits and that museum guards would help enforce social distancing.
Keeping the Whitney at 25 percent capacity will mean about 500 visitors allowed there at a time.
Museum officials have already begun factoring in reduced capacity restrictions into their plans for the fall. This month, the Metropolitan Museum of Art laid off 79 staff members and furloughed many more in anticipation that they would not be allowed to welcome as many visitors as they did before the pandemic struck. The Met had previously announced a reopening date of Aug. 29, though it said it was awaiting for direction from the state and city.
Other reopening dates for the city’s museums are trickling out. The Museum of the City of New York plans to open Aug. 27, a spokeswoman said. The American Museum of Natural History has previously announced plans to open on Sept. 2 for members and Sept. 9 for the general public.
Michael Gold contributed reporting.