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NYC Restaurants Can Expand to 75 Percent Indoor Capacity on May 7

The supposed “summer of New York City” rages on

An empty dining room inside a restaurant
Indoor dining will expand to 75 percent capacity in the city starting May 7
Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

One day after both the city and state officials proclaimed that NYC would fully reopen by July 1, more restaurant restrictions are getting rolled back. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has now announced that indoor dining in NYC can rise from 50 to 75 percent capacity starting next Friday, May 7.

At 75 percent indoor capacity, NYC restaurants and bars will be brought in line with current capacity restrictions in the rest of the state — a measure that many of the city’s restaurant owners have been calling for throughout the pandemic. Also on May 7, the city’s gyms and fitness centers can expand to 50 percent capacity, and personal care businesses like barbershops can expand to 75 percent capacity.

“We’re easing restrictions on restaurants, personal care services, and gyms to put more money in the pockets of small business owners and working people in New York City, which was hit so hard by the pandemic but, I have no doubt, will come back stronger than ever,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Cuomo announced that the midnight curfew on NYC restaurants and bars would be eliminated for outdoor dining starting on May 17 and indoor dining starting on May 31. Bar seating — which hasn’t been allowed since the city first shut down last March — can return starting May 3.

During a press conference yesterday, the mayor said that he wanted to see NYC fully reopen — including lifting all operating restrictions on restaurants and bars — by July 1, while declaring that this summer was going to be “the summer of New York City.” Later in the day, at a separate press conference, Cuomo said that he wanted to see a full reopening before July 1.

Cuomo previously raised the maximum indoor capacity for restaurants from 35 to 50 percent on March 19, citing a downward trend in positivity and hospitalization rates at the time. “When you see the positivity and the hospitalization rate go down or stabilize, we reopen more,” Cuomo said at a press conference on April 29. “We’ve been increasing curfews, etcetera. We are going to be increasing capacity level because the number is down low.”

As of April 28, the COVID-19 test positivity rate on a seven-day average in NYC was 3.24 percent, according to city data, tracking below officials’ safety threshold of 5 percent. More than 9 million New Yorkers — roughly 45 percent of the state population — have received at least one dose of the vaccine at the time of publication, according to state data.

This is a developing story and Eater will continue to update this post.