Feb. 1, 2021 -- New York City will resume indoor dining on Valentine’s Day, though capacity will be limited to 25%, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.
Cuomo banned indoor dining in mid-December to slow the spread of the coronavirus during the holidays but said the recent decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is reassuring.
“We were expecting this surge, and we handled it, and we’re on the other side of it,” Cuomo said during a news briefing.
In 2020, Cuomo ordered restaurants to close in March and reopened some indoor dining in late September. He prohibited it again in mid-December to prevent coronavirus transmission during the busy holidays.
Between now and Feb. 14, Cuomo said, businesses can order supplies, notify workers and “get up to speed.” He added that the plan depends on the current downward trajectory in COVID-19 positivity rates and may change if COVID-19 cases increase again.
“This is a great development, but we cannot become complacent now — we must all continue to do our part to keep beating back COVID so we can continue re-opening our economy and get back to normal,” he said.
Although restaurant owners welcomed the news about reopening indoor dining, they’re also frustrated that they need to wait two weeks, according to The New York Times.
“Restaurants in the city are ready to safely open now,” Andrew Rigie, the director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, told the newspaper.
Business owners also hoped that restaurants would be able to stay open until midnight, but so far, the closing time will be 10 p.m.
“Unfortunately, once again the state’s standards are being applied inequitably in the five boroughs without a transparent and data-driven system for further reopening the city’s restaurant economy,” Rigie added.
Also on Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed concerns about new coronavirus variants that could lead to a surge in cases, but he said he knows restaurants are trying to survive.
“The whole idea here is to try to strike the right balance, and I know the governor is trying to do it,” he said during a news briefing. “The most important part is, whenever we do move to indoor again, to do it safely.”
Cuomo also said wedding receptions can resume on March 15. Large events would need approval from the local health department, and all guests would need to be tested. Venue capacities would be capped at 50% or 150 guests.