The tables have turned, once again, for New York’s restaurateurs.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that restaurants will be allowed to resume indoor dining on Friday, Feb. 12, two days earlier than previously planned. Previously, indoor dining was set to return on Valentine’s Day. Restaurants will be allowed to operate indoors at 25 percent capacity.
The move follows pushback from some within the industry who wanted indoor dining to resume as soon as possible. Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a Jan. 29 statement that owners were “broken hearted” that they had to wait until mid-February to get things up and running.
“That’s a reasonable request, so we’ll start indoor dining Friday,” the governor said during Monday’s press conference.
Rigie tweeted his support for Cuomo’s order, saying that “The advanced opening and better health metrics are welcome news to the city’s decimated restaurant industry and to lovers alike.”
Indoor dining was originally reinstated Sept. 30, after months of restaurants being allowed to operate only for outdoor dining, take-out and delivery. But in December, amid rising Covid cases and hospitalizations, Cuomo pulled the plug once again.
After the ban was reinstated in December, some restaurants came together to sue the governor over the restrictions. Two lawsuits argued that the ban is unconstitutional, while a separate class-action suit with 70 restaurants as plaintiffs said that it violates their civil rights.
The latter 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.
While indoor dining will help some restaurants’ survival efforts, some fear it’s still not enough. Fifty-four percent of New York restaurants said they would likely not survive the next six months without federal relief, according to a survey by the New York State Restaurant Association and the National Restaurant Association. That’s compared to 37 percent of restaurants nationwide.