Politics & Policy

Cuomo Announces Reopening Date for NYC Indoor Dining

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters during a news conference at a COVID-19 pop-up vaccination site at William Reid Apartments in Brooklyn, N.Y., January 23, 2021. (Mary Altaffer/Pool via Reuters)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that restaurants in New York City will be allowed to reopen for indoor dining at 25 percent capacity beginning February 14.

The announcement comes more than one month after Cuomo banned indoor dining in the city amid a spike in coronavirus cases.

Cuomo first closed indoor dining in March, when New York was the epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus pandemic. Restaurants in the city were prohibited from offering indoor service until late September, though the reopening was short-lived: indoor dining was banned again in mid-December as cases climbed.

New York City’s restaurants have faced the harshest restrictions in the state: outside of the city, restaurants have been able to reopen more quickly and with double the indoor capacity allowed in the city.

In October state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli warned that half of the city’s bars and restaurants were in danger of permanently closing before April as a result of financial fallout from the coronavirus. His audit found that between a third and a half of all city bars and restaurants could close their doors for good, eliminating over 150,000 jobs.

Ahead of the governor’s announcement, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that he had been in an ongoing discussion with Cuomo about indoor dining in the city. While he voiced concern over new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus and the vaccine supply, de Blasio said he understood that restaurants were struggling financially.

“The whole idea here is to try to strike the right balance, and I know the governor is trying to do it,” the mayor said.

Cuomo said indoor dining could reopen in the city as “the holiday surge is over.” While cases and hospitalizations in the state have begun trending downward, more than 150 people have died each day this week and more than 8,350 remain hospitalized.

Cuomo said he had to “deal with the facts that you know,” adding that, “if you are to anticipate possibilities and do nothing, you would be frozen in place, forever.”

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