Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that he is extending the existing 10 p.m. curfew for restaurants and bars statewide to 11 p.m. starting February 14. In a statement, the governor attributed the decision to a continued decline in the COVID-19 positivity rate and hospitalizations.
“Our decisions are based on science and data, and we adjust as the virus adjusts,” said Cuomo in a statement. As of Friday, the statewide positivity rate on a seven-day average is 4.04 percent, the lowest it’s been since November 30, according to the governor’s office, and hospitalizations saw a net decline of 869 last week. The positivity rate in NYC on a seven-day average is 4.75 percent according to state data; however, it’s worth noting that because the state and city use different methodologies to calculate the positivity rate, the local report from NYC places the positivity rate at 7.91 percent on a seven-day average.
The city’s numbers are also trending downward following the surge in cases after the holidays, but New York City continues to record thousands of new cases each day. The governor announced earlier this week that he was moving up indoor dining’s return in NYC to February 12 after initially slating the return for Sunday, February 14. Some restaurant owners in the city had been asking for an earlier return, arguing they would end up losing a lot more money if they couldn’t open indoors over the entire holiday weekend.
Some restaurant owners have also expressed frustration about the existing curfew, wondering why indoor dining has been allowed to resume but that restaurants still have to close at 10 p.m. The curfew has been in place since November last year, when the state started grappling with a new surge of COVID-19 cases in the fall. Initially the governor said he was concerned about crowding outside bars later at night, but he left the possibility of pushing back the curfew open based on coronavirus data. Cuomo didn’t go so far as to push the curfew to midnight, which is what many in the restaurant industry had hoped for.
Many others in the hospitality industry, particularly restaurant staffers are still concerned about this return to indoor dining, and the CDC still lists indoor dining among the highest risk activities for the potential spread of the virus. While restaurant workers can now be vaccinated, the process has only just gotten underway and workers will not have received the second dose before the indoor dining restart today.