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Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

Indoor dining in NYC will officially return on Valentine’s Day

Restaurants will still be limited to operating indoors at 25 percent capacity.

By
Will Gleason
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Indoor dining in NYC is coming back!

We all knew the announcement was coming, but Governor Cuomo made it official in a press conference this afternoon: Indoor dining will be once again returning to New York (providing downward trends in positivity and hospitalization rates continue.) The twist? The day that restaurants are on track to once again open their doors is everyone’s favorite Hallmark-created holiday, Valentine’s Day.

Today’s announcement is another sharp turn in the Governor’s position on the issue. Last week, he announced that he was “not contemplating” the return of indoor dining in NYC any time soon. However, this week, after saying declining rates across the five boroughs had inspired him to change his position, he said an announcement on the matter would be coming soon.

“It’s good news that Governor Cuomo heard the voice of New York City’s struggling restaurant industry and is lifting the ban on indoor dining, similar to other major cities that reopened in recent weeks. However, restaurants are broken hearted that they need to wait two weeks until Valentine’s Day to open at only 25% occupancy in the city, while permitting 50% occupancy in dining rooms around the rest of the state where infections and hospitalization rates from COVID-19 are higher," said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality alliance, in a statement. "Restaurants in the city are ready to safely open now. 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. These actions raise legal and moral concerns and extend unique economic challenges on the city’s battered restaurants and bars, which shed more than 140,000 jobs over the past year due to the pandemic and related restrictions.”

Previously, indoor dining returned to other parts of the state outside of the city, but the ban was still in effect across the five boroughs. Still, February 14 remains a long way away (but not that long in case you want to spend some time perusing our flower delivery in NYC guide today.) Until then, you’ll want to keep our Google doc listing all NYC restaurants with outdoor heaters bookmarked.

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