After back and forth about whether restaurants can welcome any diners inside, Gov. Andrew Cuomo raised the capacity for indoor dining to 35 percent starting next Friday.
The move comes just a week after restaurants got the green light to operate at 25 percent and had their curfew pushed back to 11 p.m.
“We appreciate that the governor is following the data, listening to our voices, increasing occupancy, and we hope to continue this path and increase to at least 50 percent occupancy safely, as soon as possible,” said Andrew Rigie, New York City Hospitality Alliance’s executive director, in a statement.
Data from the governor’s office from September through November shows that restaurants and bars only accounted for 1.43 percent of recorded exposures to Covid-19. Household and social gatherings were far more likely to transmit the virus, accounting for 73.84 percent of exposures.
Restaurant trade groups have been arguing that indoor dining restrictions led to unregulated private gatherings, especially since Dec. 14, when Cuomo’s second full ban on indoor dining took effect. Covid rates have dropped steadily since then.
Restaurants in the city have been uncertain about whether they would survive even with capacity limitations. The rest of the state has been able to operate at 50 percent capacity.
In December, 92 percent of restaurants could not pay full rent, according to a report by the New York City Hospitality Alliance.
Cuomo has faced various lawsuits surrounding his restrictions on restaurants. In one suit, involving 70 restaurants, Cuomo’s everchanging restrictions were called a “Kafkaesque nightmare.”