Coronavirus NYC: Gov. Cuomo announces when indoor dining can resume in New York City

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Saturday, January 30, 2021
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Josh Einiger has more on the reaction of restaurant owners following Gov. Cuomo's announcement on when indoor dining can reopen.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City restaurants will be allowed open indoor dining at 25% capacity beginning on Valentines Day, February 14, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.

Cuomo said the city went from 7.1% positivity in January to 4.9% now, and that the current models project those numbers will continue to drop.

Statewide, the positivity rate stands at 4.65%, the lowest since December 11, which Cuomo said was the start of the post-Thanksgiving holiday surge.

"We make decisions based on facts, based on the numbers, New York City numbers down," he said. "But facts change. It sounds inconsistent. We like to think a fact is always a fact. No, facts change. COVID facts change dramatically, and they change often...If there are facts, and the facts change, we will have a different situation. One state response that is a given, if any area's hospital capacity hits 85%, then we go back to restrictions."

New York City's outdoor dining set ups, like those in the West Village, are not going to get much use through the weekend, with wind chills dipping into the single digits. But there is now hope on the horizon.

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The rest of the state is already allowed indoor dining at 50% capacity, and many of those counties also have higher infection rates than the city. But the problem, the governor has said, is that the city's higher density relative to other regions would allow an outbreak to spread faster.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he believes reopening indoor dining will be safe.

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"If indoor dining is brought back, I'm certain the state will do it with careful restrictions," he said. "And our health department as the agency that does the enforcement is going to be really strong in doing that enforcement."

Still, many in the restaurant industry are angry about the 25% reopening plan. They say it's next to impossible to turn a profit when three out of four tables are empty.

"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," NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie said. "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. Restaurants in the city are ready to safely open now. 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. 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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