Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that indoor dining will once again resume in New York City on Valentine’s Day.
The directive for restaurants to start preparing for the Feb. 14 date comes after Cuomo previously ordered the Big Apple’s thousands of eateries to stop serving customers on-site in December. Overall, New York City’s coronavirus test positivity rate is declining, he says.
“New York City restaurants, on our current trajectory, can reopen indoor dining at 25% on Valentine’s Day,” Cuomo said Friday. “The restaurants want a period of time so they can notify workers, they can get up to speed for indoor dining, order supplies, etcetera.”
Other major cities in the Northeast, such as Boston and Philadelphia, currently allow limited indoor dining.
Indoor dining also has remained opened in all other regions of New York, including Nassau and Westchester counties, which neighbor New York City and recently have had higher positivity rates and daily case counts than those being reported in parts of the five boroughs, according to state health data.
The restaurant industry is also a vital part of New York City’s economy.
“New York City’s restaurant industry had 23,650 establishments in 2019, provided 317,800 jobs, paid $10.7 billion in total wages citywide, and made nearly $27 billion in taxable sales,” the state comptroller’s office wrote in a report issued in September last year.
But not all Big Apple restauranteurs are thrilled about only being able to serve customers at 25% of their indoor capacity.
“Twenty-five percent? We can’t! It’s stupid — I’d be losing money,” Syed Hossain, owner of the 32-seat Tikka Indian Grill in Brooklyn, told the New York Post this week ahead of Cuomo’s announcement.
“Restaurants are broken hearted that they need to wait two weeks until Valentine’s Day to open at only 25% occupancy in the city, while permitting 50% occupancy in dining rooms around the rest of the state where infections and hospitalization rates from COVID-19 are higher,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement provided to Fox News on Friday.
“Unfortunately, once again the state’s standards are being applied inequitably in the five boroughs without a transparent and data-driven system for further reopening the city’s restaurant economy,” he added. “These actions raise legal and moral concerns and extend unique economic challenges on the city’s battered restaurants and bars, which shed more than 140,000 jobs over the past year due to the pandemic and related restrictions.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, when asked about the topic, said “I think about the restaurants in my neighborhood that I miss going to, and I want to see them survive, and I want to see the people who work in the restaurants have their livelihoods,” according to the New York Post, while also noting that “we all want to see indoor dining come back.”
“It has to be governed by the data and the science,” he added. “So, the state will make that decision.”