N.Y.C. businesses are now freed of most restrictions, but many indicate they will only return to normal gradually.


By Daniel E. Slotnik

New York City businesses, and the workers who make them run, have had to navigate shifting regulations from the city and state since the start of the pandemic. For many of those businesses, the struggle for safety was paired with the struggle for solvency.

Most of those regulations came to an end on Wednesday, when the state removed most capacity restrictions from businesses statewide and adopted federal guidelines that allow people who have been vaccinated to largely eschew masks, indoors and out, in most situations.

The reaction from many city dwellers was cautious, after more than a year in which the city’s known virus death toll climbed to more than 33,000 people. Workers at many businesses around the five boroughs expressed similar reluctance to leap back into normal behavior.

Chris Polanco, 32, a clerk at Melrose Hardware in the Bronx, said he will keep his mask and the plastic curtain in front of the cash register, and would continue asking people to mask up in his store, offering masks to people who do not have them.

“You never know if they’re vaccinated or not, unless they have their papers, and there are forgeries,” Mr. Polanco said.

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