Indoor dining in NYC can resume at 25% capacity on Feb. 14, Cuomo says

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says indoor dining can resume in New York City at 25% capacity on February 14, Valentine’s Day. 

“The restaurants want a period of time so they can notify workers, they can get up to speed for indoor dining, order supplies, etc.,” he said at a COVID-19 briefing on Friday.

Cuomo closed restaurants to indoor dining on December 14, preventing the struggling businesses from cashing in on the lucrative Christmas and New Year’s seasons. “Hospitalizations have not stabilized, and with a rising infection rate and NYC’s density, this means that indoor dining is too high of a risk,” the governor tweeted at the time.      

The governor has since been under enormous pressure to bring indoor dining back, including through lawsuits, CBS New York reports.  

Restaurant owners argued it was allowed in other parts of the state where COVID numbers were higher. They also pointed to the governor’s own data, which showed bars and restaurants only accounted for 1.4% of cases.

The New York City Hospitality Alliance said Friday’s announcement was another example the “state’s standards are being applied inequitably in the five boroughs without a transparent and data-driven system.”

“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,” Executive Director Andrew Rigie said in a statement.

Regina Migliucci-Delfino, the owner of Mario’s restaurant in the Bronx, said before Cuomo’s announcement that she would have preferred to match the suburbs, but she’s fine with the plan.

“I’ll take 25%. We have Valentine’s Day coming. We want to open up back inside. We gotta show some love,” Migliucci-Delfino said. “It’s a gift to the restaurants, to lovers, to everybody.”

Cuomo said that in addition to limited capacity, mandatory safety guidelines will be in place.

Cuomo also announced marriage receptions can resume at 50% capacity or up to 150 people starting March 15. He said all guests must be tested beforehand and the event must be approved by the local health department.

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