Cuomo to ease Covid restrictions, but not on indoor dining

Restaurants can serve meals inside everywhere but NYC

New York /
Jan.January 26, 2021 10:45 AM
Photo composite of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Getty Images/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)

Photo composite of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Getty Images/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)

New York plans to remove some of its coronavirus restrictions, but that doesn’t mean indoor dining is returning to New York City just yet.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that the state will again allow elective surgeries to continue in Erie County, where they had been suspended since Dec. 4. Cuomo also said his health department would look at other restrictions that cover the state’s largest cities such as New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and New Rochelle.

He cited improvement in Covid test results, hospital admissions and coronavirus transmission as the reason.

But Gov. Cuomo said the state will not change its ban on indoor dining in New York City even though it is permitted at reduced capacity in the rest of the state, including in regions with higher Covid rates than the city.

Statewide, just over 5 percent of tests are coming back positive. That’s about half of what it was late last year, but five times the rate at the low point last summer.

About 70 restaurants in New York City recently sued Cuomo over the restrictions on indoor dining, claiming that the changes violate their civil rights.

The lawsuit also alleges that the guidelines for indoor and outdoor dining — which have changed many times over the past 10 months — are a “Kafkaesque nightmare” that have compounded the hardship many of these venues face.

Health experts say indoor dining is a high-risk activity because customers cannot wear masks while eating and drinking and tend to spend long periods of time inside without social distancing. Restaurant trade groups claim the ban on indoor dining is leading New Yorkers to gather privately for meals in unregulated environments.

New York is also facing challenges with obtaining coronavirus vaccines.

The governor said that the state has used almost all of its vaccines. About 1.18 million first doses and 143,952 second doses have been administered, according to the state Department of Health. About 72 percent of the state’s 438,563 hospital workers have received at least one vaccine dose, the Journal reported.

[WSJ] — Keith Larsen


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