New York City is planning to reopen indoor dining at 25% capacity starting Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) if COVID-19 positivity rates stay stable, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference Friday.
“The restaurants want that period of time so they can notify workers, so they can get up to speed on dining, order supplies etc.,” Cuomo said during Friday’s press conference, adding that the trajectory can change if positivity or hospitalization rates suddenly surge.
Restaurants will have to follow the same rules as when indoor dining originally opened in New York City in September, including capacity restrictions, table distancing of six feet or more, mandatory temperature checks, contact tracing no bar service, and filtration upgrades.
The New York City hospitality industry had also been asking for the current business curfew to be pushed back from 10 p.m. to midnight, and Cuomo did not honor that request, citing concerns over late-night crowding at bars and trendier restaurants.
As of the latest available data, COVID-19 positivity rates have dipped below double digits at 9.06%, and hospitalization rates are dropping, while the number of total cases has stabilized.
This news comes on the heels of other cities loosening COVID-19 restrictions, including Chicago, where indoor dining resumed at 25% on Jan. 23, Washington, D.C., where limited indoor dining resumed after a month-long hiatus, and Philadelphia which reopened indoor dining at 25% capacity on Jan. 16.
"It’s good news that Governor Cuomo heard the voice of New York City’s struggling restaurant industry and is lifting the ban on indoor dining, similar to other major cities that reopened in recent weeks," New York City Hospitality Alliance executive director Andrew Rigie said in a statement on the announcement. "However, restaurants are broken hearted that they need to wait two weeks until Valentine’s Day to open at only 25% occupancy in the city, while permitting 50% occupancy in dining rooms around the rest of the state where infections and hospitalization rates from COVID-19 are higher. [...] These actions raise legal and moral concerns and extend unique economic challenges on the city’s battered restaurants and bars, which shed more than 140,000 jobs over the past year due to the pandemic and related restrictions.”
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