A mere few days after announcing that he was "not contemplating" the return of indoor dining in New York City any time soon, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that declining COVID-19 positivity rates across all boroughs are having him reconsider the ban. We are confused—but we are most definitely not complaining.
Don't expect a return to normalcy just yet: during a press conference on Wednesday, the Governor acknowledged that the idea of re-opening indoor dining at 25% capacity is what will likely happen at first. The change will undoubtedly help businesses that have been quite literally decimated by the pandemic while the sales tax income would also "help ease New York State's $15 billion budget hole."
No official announcement regarding the situation has yet been made, but Cuomo is expected to make one by tomorrow, after talking to Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration and developing a plan alongside the state Health Department, public health officials and actual restaurant owners.
"We’re happy that Governor Cuomo heard the voice of New York City’s decimated restaurant industry and we look forward to working towards a plan that hopefully reopens indoor dining soon. As the Governor acknowledged, it’s paramount these decisions are based on data. And, because New York City has lower infection and hospitalization rates than nearly all counties in the rest of the state where indoor dining is open at 50% occupancy, our city’s restaurants must be treated equitably and reopened safely," said Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, in an official statement yesterday. "Highly regulated, limited occupancy indoor dining has been a minor factor for virus transmission and full shutdowns have exacerbated the current economic crisis, which has permanently shuttered thousands of restaurants and bars and put over 140,000 people out of work in our city."
During his press conference earlier this week, the Governor also lifted restrictions throughout most hot spots across the state, effectively allowing for larger gatherings than were permissible until now. In certain areas, over 25 people are now allowed to gather in nonresidential spaces while over 10 can be on premise at once in residential abodes. Houses of worship in selected areas can now operate at over 50% capacity as well.
While waiting for an official plan to be put in place, may we suggest supporting local businesses via takeout or outdoor dining? In case you need it, here is a Google doc listing all New York City restaurants and bars with heaters.
We're with you, New Yorkers.
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