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State updates guidance on graduation ceremonies

New York state has updated its guidance on graduation ceremonies for schools, colleges and universities. The update takes effect May 1, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, and includes indoor and outdoor graduation and commencement ceremonies.

“We’re once again approaching the end of the academic year which means we need strict rules in place to ensure commencement ceremonies are done safely in the context of the ongoing pandemic,” Cuomo said. “With more people getting vaccinated every day, we are so close to the light at the end of the tunnel, but we all need to continue being vigilant and I am urging everyone to celebrate smart.”

For events that exceed the social gathering limits of 100 people indoors or 200 people outdoors, event organizers and venues must notify the local health department and require attendees to show proof of a recent negative test result or proof of completed immunization prior to entry. The requirements are consistent with the state’s guidance for other congregate commercial and social activities, including catered receptions, performing arts, and sports competitions.

OUTDOOR EVENTS

¯ large-scale ceremonies of over 500 people at outdoor venues will be limited to 20% of capacity, applicable to venues with a total capacity of 2,500 or more;

¯ medium-scale ceremonies of 201-500 people at outdoor venues will be limited to 33% of capacity;

¯ small-scale ceremonies of up to 200 people or 2 attendees per student at outdoor venues will be limited to 50% of capacity. Proof of recent negative test result or proof of completed immunization is optional.

INDOOR EVENTS

¯ large-scale ceremonies of over 150 people at indoor venues will be limited to 10% of capacity, applicable to venues with a total capacity of 1,500 or more.

¯ medium-scale ceremonies of 101-150 people at indoor venues will be limited to 33% of capacity.

¯ small-scale ceremonies of up to 100 people or 2 attendees per student at indoor venues will be limited to 50% of capacity. Proof of recent negative test result or proof of completed immunization is optional.

Cuomo previously announced that professional sports in large outdoor stadiums that hold 10,000 people or more will be allowed to reopen at 20% capacity and smaller, regional sports venues that hold 1,500 people indoors or 2,500 people outdoors can also reopen, with an initial capacity limited to 10% indoors and 20% outdoors, beginning April 1.

The governor also announced, event, arts and entertainment venues can reopen at 33%t capacity, up to 100 people indoors and up to 200 people outdoor, beginning April 2. Additionally, on March 15, Cuomo announced wedding receptions and catered events could expand to larger scale events subject to following the Department of Health guidance.

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