Indoor dining in New York City will be expanded to allow bars and restaurants to seat patrons at 35% capacity on Feb. 26 — marking a 10% increase since inside seating resumed on Feb. 12, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday.
While the eateries in the rest of the state are allowed to open indoors at 50 percent of their normal capacity, the state has slowly allowed eateries in the Five Boroughs to reopen as COVID-19 case counts have fallen in recent weeks.
In New York City, the positive test rate hovers around 4.4% — marking a significant decline from the “post-holiday surge” in early January, when just under 10% of all administered tests returned a positive result.
Now, after pushing for more relaxed limits, restaurateurs can seat more patrons inside, giving them a lifeline amid a yearlong period of economic hardship brought on by the pandemic.
The new 35% limit puts the city on the same page as restaurants in New Jersey — which, Cuomo said, had been making New York’s restrictions ineffective, as city dwellers had been crossing the Hudson River to dine in the Garden State.
“What’s happening now is people in New York City — Staten Island, Manhattan — are going to New Jersey, to those restaurants, so it’s not really accomplishing a purpose,” the governor said.
Cuomo hinted that the limits could continue to be raised to match the rest of the state, provided case counts continue to decline — but state health officials would be taking a more conservative approach to the Five Boroughs.
“Obviously we’re more sensitive to New York City because of the density and the concentration and the history,” he said.