Coronavirus Update New York City: NYC indoor dining can soon increase to 50% capacity

Coronavirus update for NYC
NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Indoor dining in New York City will soon be allowed to increase to 50% capacity.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement Wednesday.

Starting March 19, restaurants in New Jersey and NYC can expand their indoor dining.

The capacity for indoor dining in both areas is currently 35%.

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Cuomo previously announced that starting March 19, restaurants outside of NYC can increase to 75% capacity.

"In New York State, our decisions are based on science and data and we are encouraged by the continued decline in infection and hospitalization rates," Governor Cuomo said. "In partnership with the State of New Jersey, we have adjusted with rigorous testing and limited capacity indoor dining openings in New York City to expand to 50 percent. We will continue to follow the science and react accordingly. If we keep the infections down and vaccinations up, we will continue to stay ahead in the footrace against this invisible enemy and reach the light at the end of the tunnel together."

Since New York City indoor dining was reopened on February 12, two COVID-19 incubation periods have passed without any significant rise in infection and hospitalization rates.

Andrew Rigie, the executive director of NYC Hospitality Alliance, said the increase will give the industry some optimism:

"Cautiously and safely increasing indoor dining capacity at New York City restaurants to 50%, with an eye towards more occupancy, more vaccinations, and dedicated restaurant relief that's on its way from the federal government gives our industry some optimism among all the doom and gloom of this past year."

As more restaurants prepare to reopen to a higher capacity, New York Senate Republicans have introduced a resolution to repeal Cuomo's mandate that prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages without purchasing food.

The resolution was put into effect last July, and critics say it caused mass confusion within the bar and restaurant industry that was already struggling to comply with constantly changing regulations and mandates.

"While we all recognized the need to make adjustments to help contain the spread of the virus in the midst of the pandemic, this order was completely arbitrary, with absolutely no scientific data to back it up. Our bars and restaurants continue to struggle under burdensome mandates passed on by the Governor, and lifting this one is a no-brainer that would immediately help these businesses get back on their feet," said Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt.

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