Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that he would consider reopening indoor dining a day or two earlier than the anticipated return on February 14. The statement came in response to a reporter’s question during the governor’s press conference about parents not wanting to go out on Sunday night, a school night, and requesting a Saturday reopening instead.
“Let’s see what the numbers look like on Monday,” said Cuomo referring to the rate of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, which have recently been on the decline, though the daily number of cases in NYC still remain in the thousands. “I want to reopen as much as anyone, but it will be on the numbers and if it is safe.”
Based on available data, and his most recent conversations with representatives from New York’s restaurant industry, Cuomo said he would consider reopening indoor dining at 25 percent capacity either Friday, February 12, or Saturday, February 13.
The governor did, however, rule out pushing the 10 p.m. curfew back to 12 a.m. during today’s press conference. In recent days, calls from the restaurant industry to push back the curfew have grown with many owners saying they lose thousands of dollars in business during that time. Many others wanted the restrictions to at least be loosened for the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Cuomo said that unlike some other states, New York restaurants and bars both receive the same liquor license, saying it was part of his administration’s decision to keep the curfew in place because he feared overcrowding outside bars. Ideally, he would have liked to push the curfew back for restaurants, he said. Cuomo’s statement, however, didn’t seem to line up with the state’s own guidelines for bars, which require them to serve food “similar in quality and substance to sandwiches and soup.” Eater has reached out to the state for clarification.
As it stands right now, indoor dining is set to return on February 14 at 25 percent capacity with all the same restrictions that were in place during its initial return on September 30, including temperature checks, tables spaced out six feet apart, and barriers that are at least five-feet tall placed between tables where there’s not enough room for minimum social distancing, among others.
While many NYC restaurant owners have called for increasing indoor seating capacity to 50 percent like in other parts of the state, health experts, along with others in the restaurant industry, have warned of the new risks of eating out — including for outdoor dining — due to the rise of more easily transmittable COVID-19 variants in the U.S.