On a day when they were finally allowed to welcome some patrons back inside, owners of New York’s restaurants and bars received more good news Friday: They’ll be able to stay open an hour later as of Sunday night.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he’s extended the 10 p.m. mandated closing time for bars and restaurants by an hour, to 11 p.m., as of Feb. 14. The extension comes as New York City’s eateries were permitted to restore indoor dining, at 25% normal capacity, on Friday amid an continued downturn in the spread of COVID-19.
“Our decisions are based on science and data and we adjust as the virus adjusts. The infection rate and hospitalizations have continued to significantly decline,” Cuomo said. “Accordingly, we have adjusted with arena and catering hall openings with rigorous testing and limited capacity indoor dining openings in New York City. We will also move the restaurant and bar closing hour from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. statewide on Sunday. 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.”
The changes come ahead of the Valentine’s Day holiday weekends, which is traditionally one of the busiest weekends for restaurants and bars.
Advocates for the restaurant industry, including Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, welcomed the extended curfew.
“After a year of incredible economic hardships, every guest counts right now. Loosening the curfew will allow operators to comfortably seat guests at 9 p.m., bringing in business that had previously been cut off,” she said in a statement. “We’re grateful for another step forward and we thank Governor Cuomo for listening to our members and continuing to work alongside the industry to reopen.”
Latest COVID-19 stats
On the COVID-19 pandemic front, Cuomo announced that the statewide 7-day positivity rate has dropped for the 35th consecutive day, to 4.04% — the lowest such rate since Nov. 30. Just 3.54% (8,404) of the 237,134 test results reported on Feb. 11 came back positive for the virus — the lowest daily positivity rate since Dec. 19, 2020.
New York City’s 7-day positivity rate was down to 4.75% on Thursday, with the Bronx continuing to have the highest figure in the city, at 6.69%. That’s followed by Brooklyn with 5.16%, Queens with 5.11%, Staten Island with 4.76% and Manhattan at 2.97%.
The decrease comes as a post-holiday surge in cases amid the virus’ second wave has faded, and vaccination efforts continue to kick into gear; the governor noted that 132,057 first- and second-doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered to patients in New York on Thursday.
Hospitalizations also continue to decline statewide, with 7,068 patients battling the virus in hospitals across New York as of Thursday. Of those patients, 1,358 were in intensive care, including 941 on intubation.
Sadly, 135 people died of COVID-19 in New York on Feb. 11 — including 14 in the Bronx, 17 in Brooklyn, 11 in Manhattan, 22 in Queens and 1 on Staten Island.
According to the Governor’s office, 36,882 New Yorkers have died of COVID-19 since March 2, 2020.