Restaurateurs rejoice! Embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday that he will allow eateries to operate indoors at 75% capacity starting March 19, an order the legislature now has the power to block if they have 50% opposition.
The announcement follows the state of Connecticut allowing 100% capacity indoors as of the same date and Massachusetts allowing the same amount on March 1.
But there’s one snag for the dining scene in the five boroughs: they must keep capacity at 35% while the rest of the state opens up.
“That is all very good news. It’s not just good news for the restaurant owners, remember you have a lot of good restaurants. There are a lot of jobs for a lot of suppliers. So we’ll go to 75%. We also think that 75% is what the consumer is ready for, all the same safety capacities remain in effect, but we will go to 75%,” Cuomo said. “As a caveat. Between now and March 19, if the numbers change, if something happens, if there’s a downturn then obviously, we will adjust with the new law that the legislature passed. We will make this public, the legislature has five days to review the change.”
But restaurants in New York City will not be completely left out in the cold, literally and figuratively. About $28 billion in relief is coming down the line from the federal government in the American Rescue Act passed by the U.S. Senate on Saturday.
“This is incredibly hopeful news for New York City’s restaurants and bars, who will now receive direct grants to help pay rent, payroll, vendors expenses and more,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said on Sunday. “The passage of the American Rescue Plan will save countless small businesses and jobs, and serve as a critical milestone on the path to recovery. We thank Senate Majority Leader Schumer for his partnership and exceptional leadership, and our New York Congressional Delegation for fighting for this crucial restaurant industry support.”
Governor Cuomo reported that statewide infection rates came in at 2.98% on Sunday.