New York is shedding mask and vaccine mandates like so many going out turtlenecks as we inch toward spring, with Governor Kathy Hochul selectively lifting the former at the state level in February and Mayor Eric Adams planning to eschew the latter for indoor dining and other activities in NYC next week—less than one year after the requirement went into effect last August.
“So long as our indicators show a low level of risk and we see no surprises this week, on Monday, March 7 we will also remove the vaccination requirements for Key2NYC—meaning indoor dining, fitness and entertainment venues,” reads a Twitter post from the Mayor’s account.
The city’s latest COVID data indicates that the percentage of people testing positive for the virus and other virus tracking metrics are trending downward. Among NYC residents of all ages, 86 percent have at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, and 76.9 percent are fully vaccinated. Among adults, the part of the population more commonly eating in restaurants, those numbers shift to 96.5 percent and 86.8 percent.
This means that, if all goes according to plan, the 3.5 percent of local adults who are not yet vaccinated will reenter NYC’s competitive reservation market. As though tables aren’t already hard enough to come by.
“Yes, we have seen an increase in reservations and we anticipate it will continue to trend upwards now that mandates are lifting,” a representative for reservation platform Tock says via email.
Tock had the caveat that other factors, including the trickling easement of other industry-stymying issues, may, of course, be at play. And most of the restaurant owners and hospitality public relations liaisons we reached for this article did not report a significant uptick in reservations made since the Mayor’s Sunday tweet.
"Though we haven't seen a change in the number [of] reservations for next week, we have seen switches being made from indoor to outdoor,” says Carnegie Diner & Cafe owner Stathis Antonakopoulos. “A lot of our regulars who are older have expressed that they are not ready to dine in with non-vaccinated people just yet."
Reps for reservation giant Resy say it’s too early to tell whether reservations in the week following the Mayor’s announcement will outpace those made the week before. And, while booking behemoth OpenTable’s State of the Industry dashboard tracks daily percentage changes compared to 2019, date closer to to time of the mayor’s tweet was not yet available at press time.
By OpenTable’s available metrics, the volume of seats booked by phone, online and on-site was down 40% versus February 27, 2019 when the mayor made his announcement last Sunday.