Coronavirus NY: Some designated hotspots outside of NYC can resume indoor dining

Coronavirus Update for New York
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Restaurants in some COVID-19 hot spots in New York can once again offer limited indoor dining in the wake of the latest lawsuit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo's virus restrictions.

Port Chester is still an orange zone, as are the cities of Syracuse, Rochester and Elmira. They are some of the cities that can now resume indoor dining at 50% capacity.

The decision comes after a court decision Wednesday temporarily granted a few restaurants within an orange zone in Eerie County to resume indoor dining under yellow zone rules.

"While that process is ongoing, to ensure uniformity and fairness, all restaurants operating in orange zones can now operate under rules governing Yellow zones," said Counsel to the governor Kumiki Gibson. "We disagree with the court's decision and its impact on public health as Federal CDC data clearly demonstrates indoor dining increases COVID-19 spread. From the start of this pandemic, the state has acted based on facts and the advice of public health experts, and we will continue that approach."

The move does not impact indoor dining in NYC, which was prohibited under a separate executive order because of factors like population density, rather than its classification as an orange zone.

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That distinction prompted the NYC Hospitality Alliance to put out a statement:

"The court's preliminary decision and the Governor's action to remove indoor dining restrictions in all "orange zones" makes the status of the indoor dining ban in New York City all the more outrageous and destructive to thousands of restaurants across the five boroughs, especially when our infection and hospitalization rates are lower than most counties in the State where indoor dining is permitted at 50% occupancy. Continuation of the indoor dining ban in New York City is divorced from any of the data and criteria the State has articulated and must be ended now."

State Supreme Court Justice Henry Nowak said he could not "find evidence that the state had a rational basis to designate portions of Erie County as an orange zone" and that the restaurants would suffer "irreparable harm" without the injunction.

It's the latest lawsuit that has questioned Cuomo's micro-cluster approach that he launched in October.

Cuomo's Thursday announcement is welcome news for numerous county officials who have questioned why Cuomo has kept some parts of the state under orange zones even as cases rise elsewhere.

New York now has no red zones and seven orange zones, even as nearly the entire state is seeing high enough positivity rates to qualify under Cuomo's original red zone metrics. Cuomo in December said he would now shutter a part of the state only if hospitalization reaches critical levels even after hospitals boost extra beds and suspend some services.

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(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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