New York restaurants outside of Big Apple can soon have more indoor diners — and their governor now has less power to shut them down.
On Sunday, embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo allowed eateries outside of New York City to operate at 75 percent capacity as of March 19, the New York Daily News reported. The current capacity is 50 percent. New York City’s indoor dining capacity remains at 35 percent.
Also on Sunday, Cuomo signed a bill limiting the emergency powers granted him early in the pandemic, which he used repeatedly to shut down or curb businesses’ operations. But he can still extend or modify existing orders as long as he gives five-day notice to the Legislature or local authorities.
In recent weeks, Cuomo has accused of sexual harassment from five women and of concealing the number of nursing home residents who died of Covid, prompting numerous lawmakers to call for his resignation.
But during a call with reporters Sunday, he vowed to remain in office, intimating that his leadership is crucial to the state’s recovery.
“This is about doing the people’s business, and this next six months, I believe, will determine the future trajectory for New York state,” he said. Were Cuomo to quit or be impeached and convicted by the legislature, his lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, would take over.
As Covid cases have receded since the second wave peaked during the holiday season, Cuomo has lifted a variety of pandemic restrictions. Fewer than 3 percent of Covid tests in the state are now coming back positive, and Connecticut will soon allow restaurants to serve at full capacity, prompting the capacity increase in New York.
On the other hand, the Centers for Disease Control just warned that counties opening restaurants for indoor or outdoor dining saw an increase in Covid rates six weeks later.
But the National Restaurant Association noted that researchers had not controlled for factors such as business re-openings and mask policies.
[NYDN] — Akiko Matsuda