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NYC Indoor Dining Capacity Expands to 50 Percent Today

Plus, restaurants and bars ramp up hiring efforts — and more intel

Restaurants reopening indoor dining NYC Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

Indoor dining capacity expands to 50 percent today

NYC restaurants will be allowed to operate indoor dining at 50 percent capacity starting today, following four weeks of operating at 35 percent capacity. It’s the lightest capacity restriction that NYC restaurants have operated under since the city first shut down dining rooms in March 2020. The rest of New York state restaurants can go to 75 percent capacity starting today, while Connecticut is lifting all capacity restrictions.

The rise to 50 percent capacity, which many NYC restaurants had been advocating for, was announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last Friday. While Mayor Bill de Blasio has not said he disagrees with the decision — as he has with the upcoming return to indoor fitness classes — he said in press conferences earlier this week that he will publicly voice concerns if data indicates that there is an uptick in COVID-19 spread following the relaxed restrictions.

As of March 16, the COVID-19 test positivity rate on a seven-day average in NYC was 6.42 percent, according to city data. It has hovered around that rate for the past two weeks; city officials want to get the test positivity rate below 5 percent. According to the state, which has a different metric for reporting COVID-19 data, the test positivity rate on a seven-day average in NYC is at 4.2 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study in early March where researchers saw an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases six weeks after on-premise dining restrictions were relaxed, followed by a rise in deaths due to COVID-19 two months afterward. The National Restaurant Association has disputed the study’s findings.

In other news

— NYC Council member Carlina Rivera is advocating for the extension of a law enacted during the pandemic that protects restaurant owners from being held personally liable for their leases. The law is currently set to expire on March 30; Rivera is pushing to extend it through the end of June.

— Restaurants and bars could be headed toward a post-pandemic hiring spree, Crain’s reports.

— Gothamist’s Scott Lynch has an “outrageously good” meal at chef Chintan Pandya and restaurateur Roni Mazumdar’s latest spot Dhamaka inside Essex Market.

— Chef Leland Yu’s pop-up Mr. Lee’s at the Good Fork in Red Hook is donating seven percent of this week’s sales to the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association and Asian Americans Advancing Justice in light of the recent horrific shooting attacks in Atlanta, Georgia, that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent.

— A look into the subdued, yet hopeful, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at legendary Irish bar McSorely’s in the East Village.

— Spring is coming: