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New York to resume indoor dining—except NYC

Restaurants in NY orange zones are permitted to reopen, says government

Written by
Christina Izzo

New York dining rooms are open again for business—sort of. Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced that all restaurants located within orange zones in New York State would be allowed to resume indoor dining at half capacity, with some restrictions. For one, the measure would not include New York City and would only be temporary, with a final verdict set for next week.

The decision comes as the result of a court case featuring more than 100 Erie County restaurants, which challenged the state’s confusing dining restrictions using its own data: that restaurants and bars accounted for 1.4 percent of COVID-19 cases in the state, compared to household gatherings, which netted nearly 74 percent of the cases.

The judge ruled in favor of the restaurants and until the final verdict next week, the state has decided to move New York State eateries out of the orange zone and into the slightly more lenient yellow zone. Restaurants in yellow zones are permitted to serve up to four people a table both indoors and out, though indoor capacity still needs to max out at fifty percent.

New York City, which has one orange zone in Staten Island, is not included in the demarcation because of population density, much to the chagrin of many restaurant owners.

"The court's preliminary decision and the governor’s action to remove indoor dining restrictions in all 'orange zones' makes the status of the indoor dining ban in New York City all the more outrageous and destructive to thousands of restaurants across the five boroughs, especially when our infection and hospitalization rates are lower than most counties in the state where indoor dining is permitted at 50 percent occupancy," said NYC Hospitality Alliance executive director Andrew Rigie and counsel Robert Bookman in a joint statement. "Continuation of the indoor dining ban in New York City is divorced from any of the data and criteria the State has articulated and must be ended now.”

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