Indoor dining to resume at 25% capacity on Feb. 14: Gov

Photo by Caroline Ourso

Now you have no excuse not to have a date this Valentine’s Day.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York City restaurants will resume indoor dining at 25% capacity on Feb. 14, citing the city’s dropping infection rate and stating with confidence that positive tests will continue to fall.  

According to state data, New York City’s infection rate peaked at 7.1% on Jan. 4, and has fallen to 4.9% since then. The state’s dataset differs from the City of New York’s data, which listed the city’s infection rate at over 8% today.

Cuomo also intends to allow weddings and wedding venues to operate again with up to 150 guests after March 15— with an emphasis on rapid Covid testing for all guests. 

“You could make a reservation now or plan dinner on Valentine’s Day, you propose on Valentine’s day, and then you can have the wedding ceremony March 15, up to 150 people,” he said. “People will actually come to your wedding because you can tell them with the testing it will be safe, everyone there will have been tested.”

Hospitality groups celebrated Cuomo’s decision, but questioned the logic of making struggling restaurants wait over two weeks to reopen and only allowing 25% capacity while establishments outside of the city, where infection rates are higher in some regions, are allowed 50% capacity.

“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,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance. 

Others criticized Cuomo for allowing restaurants to reopen before restaurant workers are eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, and called on the governor to expand eligibility to include hospitality workers. 

“The governor must make the vaccine available immediately for all service industry workers who will be working,” tweeted Manhattan City Council candidate Marti Cummings.

Studies have shown indoor dining to be a high-risk activity during the pandemic, with some data showing that six feet of distance is not enough to prevent infection in an indoor mask-less setting.

This is a developing story. Check back here for updates. 

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